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the habit of living
a tough one to kick
by reem al-omari (@Reemawi)

A surprise spring snow has enveloped my world, and there is a lot of depressing news in the paper. Aside from the usual depressing stuff; A woman lost her job and benefits shortly after being diagnosed with a debilitating disease. Two big newspaper agencies have to cut jobs like crazy. And finally, the way too late realization by a columnist that the media was nothing more than a propaganda machine leading up to the quagmire that is Iraq... Really, way too late to come to that realization.

Flipping through the rest of the “depressing pages,” as I’ve dubbed every paper (aside from The Onion) I came across something like an obituary in the business section. It wasn’t about a big-shot businessman, or celebrity. It was a man who over the span of his life had worked as a farmer, a refiner at a copper smelter, grocery store and soda fountain owner, and finally as a grocery store chain manager. The grocery store King Soopers still exists to this day in Colorado. Maybe that's why this guy is in the business section. But that's not what's fascinating about him.

The soda fountain ought to give you an idea of what makes this relative average Joe special.

The headline read “7th-oldest man drove until he was 108”. And I thought people over 70 were a danger on the roads.

Reuel S. Millar died at the way past ripe old age of 110 years old. He’d given up driving, because it was getting too dangerous according to his granddaughter.


Being 110 years old isn’t just about being born in 1897 and surviving into 2007. It’s about living two lifetimes. The author of the article, in order to help the reader grasp just how old this man was, mentioned that 1897 was the same year Amelia Earhart and William Faulkner were born. Such ancient people to me! Remember Billy Joel’s song “We didn’t start the fire”? Well, that song covers only part of the history Millar lived through and experienced.

Millar married shortly after the First World War, had a son in 1926, retired in 1965, lost his wife in 1975. He lived through the Ford T-model, Wright Brothers, roaring 20s, Great Depression, Einstein, Stalin, Hitler, McCarthian era, Polio, the eradication of polio, Elvis, The Beatles, The Godfather, MTV, The Arsenio Hall Show, Madonna, the many hairstyles of that annoying little twerp, Sanjaya. He’s lived through every single TV show, vaudeville, vinyl, cassette tapes, CDs, IPods, MySpace and Youtube. He might’ve even felt global warming creeping upon us, and might've been able to tell us just how much hotter it really feels since people used ice boxes.

Looking outside my window, a spring snow storm/blizzard is leaving a coat of frozen slush on the tulips and daffodils. My plans are shot for the day, which involved a trail bike ride, and I wonder if Millar had plans that were interrupted by his sudden demise. I presume it was sudden, mainly because I’d think he’d gotten so used to living.

Reuel S. Millar lead a full life on so many levels, it seems. May he rest in peace.


Reem lives and writes about it. She thinks that's what writers do, anyway. If it's not, then she also has a degree in journalism under her belt, along with the titles of reporter, editor (in chief, even) and, of course, opinion columnist.

more about reem al-omari


they can take away my money
but they'll never take away my freedom!
by reem al-omari
topic: general
published: 2.13.08

men & women
apples & oranges
by reem al-omari
topic: general
published: 5.30.07


annie smith
5.12.07 @ 1:43a

It was heart warming to find this piece written about my grandfather.

The soda fountain was called the "Town Talk" and it had a juke box and a dance floor and they served burgers/food. (My grandparents worried about the teenagers not having a place to hang out!)

I got assigned a paper in the 7th grade to write about what I liked best about myself. I didn't understand the concept at the time.... I wrote about how I liked my grandfather the best!

He drove cross country to see me when he was 100 years old and had a flat tire in the desert that he had to stop and fix. He still arrived in his suit and tie, not even looking frazzled. He was an amazing, awesome man and I feel very blessed to have had him as my grandfather. I'm still blessed with the memories.

He did lead a full life on so many levels, as you said, and he led a good life, he was a very kind man, too.

Thanks for thinking of him and taking the time to write this. As I said, it warmed my heart.


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