What Will You Do When You Are 100?

Updated: Sep 10

A child's answer


A face made of different coloured paper, with the words underneath: Wot will yuo do wen yuo are 100. I will red books.
My granddaughter Summer's message to the world. Photo by Lara.

My mother will turn 91 this year. She is five years younger than Queen Elizabeth II. She loved Queen Elizabeth and admired her dedication to her responsibilities. If Mum lives to be 100, and if Queen Elizabeth had lived to be 105, the Queen would have written her a letter of congratulations. However, Queen Elizabeth died yesterday, so the letter Mum may live to receive will be penned by King Charles III.


Mum walks unaided, eats well, and although she experiences short-term memory loss, she helps others and still has a sense of humour. The only medication she takes is to manage her blood pressure, so chances are she could live to be 100 and open and read that letter from King Charles.


We take reading for granted


Although the act of reading is an amazing thing, we take it for granted. Our eyes follow a series of letters, our brain somehow decodes the letters into words, and the words string into sentences that educate, amuse, shock, intrigue, or move us. In other words, what we read changes us in some way.


Books change the world, one letter at a time.


Books have been the scaffolding of my life. I’m drawn to them like dogs are drawn to kind people with doggie treats in their pockets. Walking past a bookshop is impossible. I’ve just ordered another bookcase for my writing room, and my desk has four teetering piles of half-read-but-I-will-finish-one-day books, each one a treasure: Being Myself by Rupert Spira; Music of the Mind by Darryl Reanney, Sacred Medicine by Lissa Rankin, The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav, Your True Home by Thich Nhat Hanh, and on it goes. Books that change me. Books that change the world. I’ll need to live to be 100 to read them all.


While staying at my daughter’s place recently, I was sitting on the sofa having a morning coffee, patting their dog’s head, and watching my five-year-old granddaughter, Summer, create something using coloured paper, crayons, scissors, and glue. I didn’t know it, but I was about to be moved by words.


Summer finished what she’d been working on, wiped her gluey hands on her dress, stepped back, and looked at what she’d done. Pleased with it, she picked it up, turned it to face me, and held it high so I could read it.


The photo at the top of this article is what I saw, through a blur of tears.


I’ve been reading since the age of five, and I hope that if I’m alive at 100, I’ll still be reading. And knowing that my granddaughter has discovered the joy of reading, knowing that she will encounter books that will educate, amuse, shock, intrigue, or move her, fills me with joy.


Books will change her, and then she will change the world.


With love, Marlane

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