Saturday, July 28, 2012

Age 90 and Going Strong!

A good friend of mine recently threw a party for her father’s birthday. And this particular birthday was a big one…Her dad turned 90 this year.  He is very fortunate in that he is still very active physically.  Actually that is a major understatement. Over the past ten years he has climbed to the top of Diamond Head in Hawaii; taken a gondola from peak to peak in Whistler and gone whitewater rafting, both in British Columbia, Canada; gone snorkeling through the cenotes of Xcaret in Mexico; walked miles of historical trails in Italy, Spain and France; done cannonballs off the pier in Green Lake; and ridden some of the best roller coasters in the United States.

How does a person live to be 90 and still maintain a spirit of adventure and a true zest for life?  I realize there are all kinds of health related limitations that impede people from doing the things they would like to do, but Sandy’s dad has made some life choices that I think we could all stand to emulate. Here they are:

He seized the opportunities given him: Growing up during The Great Depression he developed some important competencies. His father taught him how to grow vegetables, and his mother taught him the skills of making pasta, bread, and sauce. He employed those talents to own and operate a very successful and popular Italian restaurant in his hometown.  I am convinced that a lot of people spend their lives bemoaning the absence of talents they don’t possess. Some live their lives adopting a “if only” mentality.  Others become perpetual victims. Neither mindset leads to a long and fulfilling life.

He made lifelong friends. Sandy’s father looks back at service with the US Coast Guard during the World War II era with fond memories. He states that he made some of his “closest lifelong friendships” during that time period in his life.
That comment stands out to me, because I often run across people I have known through the years that are seriously scarred from a string of broken relationships. There are no lifelong friends…That phrase is never uttered from their mouth. They go through life always searching for deep and long lasting friendship, but it remains an ever elusive venture. Damaged people don’t become happy and fulfilled 90 year olds that do cannonballs off piers.

Family Remained a Priority This particular gentleman grew up in a very close knit traditional family.  His parents were immigrants from Sicily. They raised 8 children in their new found home.  The family values he gleaned from those formative years shape his priorities today.  I can’t help but contrast his family of origin with the all too common brokenness and outright neglect that is endemic
in families today. Lifelong family commitments foster good health and well being.
Sandy’s father is a living testimony to that fact.

I can’t promise that the above mentioned principles will lead to a great life at age 90. But I can promise that ignoring such ideals will lead to a lot of misery and stress that will not lead to a great life at any age. A good attitude about what we have been given coupled with a commitment to the important relationships in life is not such a bad plan! 

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