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  • The family put together a slide presentation to celebrate the 100 years this man has lived so far. It was the usual pan-and-zoom affair of still images coupled with music, set to run on a loop from a laptop and projected without keystone correction onto a beige wall. I've made dozens of these myself. At first, I couldn't help the inner dialogue commenting on poor scanning quality or odd cropping. But after a few pictures star-wiped or spiral-flipped by I let go to immerse myself in Mr. Barclay's life.
    The video was broken into chapters. We witnessed his childhood in grainy sepia. He was born the year the Titanic sank, the Girl Scouts were born, and children first twisted apart an Oreo Cookie. There were pictures of him, as a baby, being held by people born in the 1800s. As a little boy he sat on a fence with his friends, arms around each other. They were forever children, and I wondered as the picture flipped past how many were already dust buried in a box.
    The following chapters outlined his schooling, military career, and marriage. Next came the chapter dedicated to his time as a father, followed by grandfather, great-grandfather, and finally great-great-grandfather. I would wager this man has held as many babies as any pediatrician. As the pictures took their turns on the screen, tiny voices from the floor would announce, "That's me."
    One hundred years of love recorded, distilled from a grainy sepia-toned studio shot to the pure 100-proof tones of children.
    I turned my head to look at Mr. Barclay where he sat in an easy chair receiving his guests with a smile, a firm handshake and by name. I experienced a Hollywood mental tunneling moment. The facade of age blurred. His smile and crystal blue eyes remained in sharp focus, as did his military-grade posture. But the suit which hung a little too loosely began to fill out. The flesh smoothed. He was a master of time, a warrior who had fought 100 foes, won every battle, and faced the ones yet to come with a confident grin.
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