Think you have seen a lot of technology in your lifetime? Think again!
My wife, Vivian, and I had lunch with Maxine Lincoln this week at her home in Centralia, MO. She’s celebrating her 100th birthday and we brought Maxine’s best friend (my mother-in-law Bonnie Jean Backues) for a special visit. Bonnie is only 95. The two have been best friends since 1949. And when they get together — wow! They have a lot to talk about. They’ve seen a lot of changes during their lifetimes. And listening to them chat about the old days makes me a bit more humble each time we visit.
Think you can’t learn new technology? Think again!
One of the proudest moments for Maxine at our lunch yesterday occurred when she heard the distinctive notification bell from her tablet on the stand in the kitchen. She perked up and smiled, telling us that she probably got an email. “Hand me my tablet,” she said, and then opened it up to show us all the things she’s been doing with her device that the kids bought her when she was still 99.
Bonnie uses her smartphone every day, not just for calls, but for texting, pictures, keeping up with weather forecasts, and checking out the stats on the St. Louis Cardinals. She is still learning every day, too.
When Maxine was born in 1919, the world was much simpler. I asked her what she considered important milestones of progress over the course of 100 years. After a moment she suggested that communication, transportation, and plastic were significant in her lifetime.
In 1919 only about 35 percent of American households had electricity. Today, many of the remotest places on earth have power. Today you can make a satellite call from the North Pole to Nebraska in seconds. Today, as Maxine has witnessed, we can see deep into space and place humans in rocket-powered vehicles thousands of miles above the earth.
Within the last 100 years, technology has impacted our world exponentially through radio, television, film, cell phones, the internet — wireless communications of all sorts — as well as through transportation that moves more people faster and farther around the globe. Technology has even improved the very ground we stand on, whether through better building materials or more targeted agricultural environments to get the most out of our planet in order to feed the world.
Of course, Maxine never became an expert in technology. She taught elementary school most her life. Her late husband, Earl, flew fighters during WWII and trained radar operators on St. Simons Island, where he and Maxine met.
Perhaps we can say they were a typical couple from the greatest generation who raised a typical family, working hard, contributing to their community, making life better as they could. But the events of life they witnessed — the ways in which mankind literally changed the world right before their eyes — made them humble and respectful and grateful. Maxine’s gracious attitude is written all over her face. She has seen more of life and the development of our world than any of us will ever see, but she remains active and teachable, even after a century of living.
At the end of our lunch I asked Maxine what’s next for her, what year 101 looks like. “I’m taking it just one day at a time,” she remarked. As should we all.
By the way, while Maxine and Bonnie continue to appreciate the progress of technology to make their lives easier, they both commented with some sadness how much technology has taken hold of people and relationships. We cannot forget to stay connected to our families and friends face-to-face.
Good advice from two gals who have seen it all.