Family (noun)
a group of one or more parents and their children living together as a unit

To some, the true meaning of family means a group of people related by blood or ancestry. To others, it has nothing to do with genes and everything to do with love, compassion, and support. The definition of the word family can mean many things.

Three weeks ago today we lost the matriarch of my family, my grandmother Sylvia, at 104-years old. And by family I do mean both by ancestry and not.

I think people were confused that I wasn’t sad. How can you be sad about 104 years, weird yes, sad no? And, to be honest, she ceased being the grandmother I knew 10 years ago after her heart surgery. Though we had a few good years after that, as anticipated, she was never the same again.

May 1940

She lived life on her own terms until the very end. She once told our family that she was coming out of the apartment she’d lived in for 60 years feet first, and she was correct. She danced like no one was watching and ate the cake (A LOT of cake!). And she died peacefully in her own bedroom, with my parents by her side.

Born in 1916 in New Jersey, she faced unimaginable heartache and tragedy throughout her life, but also loads of love and happy times. Following are some of the many, many historical milestones she saw / experienced during her 104 years. Though I’ve never created that timeline for my own life, I can’t imagine it’s as much as she saw.

1914 U.S. entered WW1, which went on until 1918.
1917 All purpose zipper invented
1918 at two years old she very likely lost her mom to the pandemic. (20m people died world-wide, including 500k in the U.S.)
1919 Prohibition 18th amendment to the constitution is ratified, prohibiting the manufacture, sale, and transportation of liquor (later repealed by the 21st amendment in 1933); 19th amendment is ratified, granting women the right to vote (sort of); patent for pop-up toaster filed; first rotary phones
1920 NFL is started; device known as a radio used for the first time on a Navy plane; 1920s first model 2A hearing aid
1923 Walt Disney started; Schick razors patented; self-winding watch patented; first electric shaver; traffic signal patented
1924 first fax; first self operated residential elevator installed
1926 semi-automatic rifle patented; as fridge patented
1927 Charles Lindbergh makes the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight; first electronic TV was invented
1928 Mickey Mouse created; sliced bread invented; scotch tape first marketed
1929 stock market crash starts the Great Depression; foam rubber
1930 Masking tape invented; flashbulb
1931 Al Capone convicted; Empire State Building opened
1932 Amelia Earhart completes the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight by a woman
1935 social security act passed; Nylon discovered
1938 Fair Labor Standards Act is passed, setting the first minimum wage in the U.S. at 25 cents per hour; Superman created; first color TV
1939 to 1945 WWII U.S. declares neutrality in European conflict; U.S. enters WWII in 1941; Gone With the Wind; Wizard of Oz
1939 First air continued car
1940 Marries
1944 GI Bill of Rights
1945 United Nations is established
1946 Dad born
1947 Beginning of Xerox copier
1948 McDonald’s first hamburger stand
1948 to 1949 Berlin airlift; first Polaroid camera
1949 Nato established
1950 to 1953 Korean War
1950 to 1975 Vietnam War; 1950 Charlie Brown created
1951 Julius & Ethel Rosenberg trial
1952 Puerto Rico becomes a commonwealth; first hydrogen bomb is detonated by the U.S. in the Marshall Islands
1954 Brown v Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas declares that racial segregation in schools is unconstitutional
1955 Rosa Parks refuses to give up bus seat
1956 Interstate highway system started
1957 Hoover produced its best selling model
1958 NASA formed; Explorer I first American satellite is launched; DARPA formed; Super Glue
1959 Barbie created
1960 Sit-ins for civil rights began
1961 U.S. severs diplomatic ties with Cuba
1962 first astronaut orbits earth (John Glenn)
1963 MLK Jr. delivers his ‘I Have a Dream” speech; President Kennedy assassinated
1964 President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act; Beatles visit the U.S.
1965 Voting Rights Act signed; Watts Riot; Pampers patented
1966 Miranda Rights established; HP introduced its first computer; TI first hand-held calculator
1967 First air conditioned NYC subway
1968 MLK Jr. & RFK assassinated; first 911 emergency system; Double Helix
1969 Armstrong & Aldrin lands on the moon; Woodstock; first Internet & email messages
1970 Kent State riot
1970 to 1979 CAT scan technology developed
1972 Nixon & Watergate; compact disc introduced
1973 Roe v Wade legalizes first trimester abortion; first cell phone
1974 Nixon impeached, resigns, receives pardon by Ford; first UPC scanner created; grandpa dies when they are both 58
1976 PET scan commercially available
1981 MTV started
1982 deadline for ratifying ERA passes without necessary votes
1984 First Apple computer; TED conference founded
1986 Space shuttle Challenger explodes after liftoff
1988 Patent filed for genetically engineered mouse
1990 to 2005 Human Genome project
1991 Break-up of the USSR; Iraq War I
1993 Bomb explodes in basement garage of World Trade Center
1995 Bombing of federal office building in Oklahoma
1996 Google created
1996 to 1999 Whitewater scandal
2000 Bush v Gore hanging chads; Y2K
2001 9/11 in NYC & DC; Apple introduced the iPod
2002 Department of Homeland Security created; “war” begins in the middle east
2005 YouTube created; Hurricane Katrina
2007 Nancy Pelosi becomes the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives
2008 Barack Obama becomes the first Black president of the U.S.; Facebook created
2009 H1N1 outbreak
2012 Pentagon announces that women will now be permanently assigned to battalions. Many women already serve making the assignments official, but still can’t serve in combat; Hurricane Sandy
2015 Paris Agreement (climate change)
2016 SCOTUS rules in favor of equality and declares same-sex marriages legal in the U.S.
2017 #MeToo movement

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