It’s an age that very few people have seen but more will. If you’re turning ninety this year, you were born two years after the first world war ended; were nineteen when the second war started; and were nearly fifty when the first man stood on the moon.
And so it was that my Dad did attain this incredible age on the auspicious date of the 8th of February 2010. I’d been agonising long and hard as to how best to mark the event. At one point I’d seriously considered hiring a helicopter and flying him to his beloved St Kilda. That was until I found out the price tag and that none of the family were mad enough to fly 100 miles out to a rock in the Atlantic.
After much debate I took the sensible, and as it turned out, much more enjoyable option of organising a big birthday bash for him in our hometown of Greenock.
It’s a sad fact but once a person reaches ninety many of their friends and family have long departed this earth. Nonetheless, I sent out 54 invitations and 50 people turned up to celebrate the ‘90 Years of Archie’. It was a wonderful life-affirming event, and incredibly, the first birthday party my Dad ever had.
I put together a book, an exhibition and a slide show of his ninety years. While doing so I discovered a lot about my Dad, myself and the continuity of family across generations. It was a very emotional day, which showed when I came to make my speech.
We gave Dad a laptop and a broadband connection for his present. Yesterday we hooked him up the web. Not many men make their first solo foray onto the internet at ninety. But not many men are like Archie Maynard.