This is a golden age for those of us living at this spot and this time. There has been no better time in history to get sick or injured. Modern medicine has made unimaginable progress in either curing or eradicating major illness from smallpox to polio.
If I had been born 100 years before I was, I would have died at the age of 38 from a ruptured appendix, at 45 from pneumonia or at 65 from prostate cancer. My father would have died at the age of 45 from diabetes. Instead he lived with the disease another 40 years. My wife would have died at the age of 47 from ovarian cancer. My mother lived to 94 without any major health issues, except some broken bones around the age of 90. Her mother, however, died in childbirth when my mother was only 5 years old. My grandmother bore seven children and died of pneumonia after the last birth in 1924.
Today, not only would my mother have gotten to know her mother well into her dotage, but her other grandchildren and I would have gotten to know the fun-loving woman she had been. My grandfather loved her and called her his “Georgia Peach” because her name was Georgia. I know he would have been a different man had she lived. He reared seven children by himself during the heart of the Great Depression by teaching himself carpentry, geometry and all. He lived to be 87 and never remarried. That’s been the difference in healthcare during a short 100 years.
The same year that my paternal grandparents were married, the Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk. Fifty years later, my grandparents flew to California and back to Erie, Pa., on a Boeing DC3 and enjoyed the whole experience. Today, of course, that trip is taken for granted, and I’ve taken it and many others over the ensuing years. We have put footprints on the moon by the walking men (as important as the Wright Brothers) who wandered on its surface in the late 1960s. Today, that tiny computer that guided Apollo 11 to land on the moon and return to Earth with astronauts intact would not be enough to power today’s smart phone.
And speaking of smart phones, it was only 1996 that I first got on the Internet. I couldn’t believe that right there on my very slow computer, the red bands of color were piling up on the screen. It was the official website for Beijing University; I was actually in touch with a website halfway around the world from my computer in Akron, Ohio. I was in awe. Of course, that was just the beginning. Today from my iPhone 5S, I can actually talk face-to-face via FaceTime with a person at Beijing University, even if I didn’t have anything to talk about. Technology has made the world smaller. One hundred years ago, if I had wanted to talk with someone from Beijing, it would take me weeks to travel there and weeks to get back. Now we have instant access to almost anywhere in the world.
And one more thing to consider as we live here in the Akron area: water. We’re within walking distance to one of the largest bodies of fresh water on the planet. If we were living almost anywhere else except one of the Great Lakes states, water would be in short supply. We would need to bring water in as they do in Arizona, for instance, just for our daily needs. We don’t have that worry. Nor do we need to worry about hurricanes, earthquakes, forest fires or most any other natural disasters which plague much of the country. And we are high enough here in Summit County that flooding isn’t a major problem either.
Count your blessings that you were born in this best of all times, here in one of the safest parts of the Earth, with all the resources you need to be happy and healthy. Now the rest is up to you: Being happy is now a choice.
Don Baker Jr.