Up until her stroke at 84, my mother was incredibly active and mentally sharp… Actually, it was probably her tendency to overdo it that precipitated the stroke – nice spring day where she spent all day working in her yard (doing stuff that most of my peers would consider hard labor for which they would hire somebody).
Her mantra was to just keep moving – despite rheumatoid arthritis and some other autoimmune issues and a quadruple bypass in her early 70’s, she had more spunk than most folks half her age. She also never stopped reading.
My aunt is in her late 80’s and is still a world traveler. She says, “The day I can’t carry my own suitcase up the stairs is the day I quit.”
My grandfather mowed the lawn with a push mower (not the powered kind) until the week he died. He was somewhere in his mid-80s, but I don’t know how old. When I asked, he said, I don’t know, 80-something. His older brother, a polio survivor, lived to 95, and with less mobility, he spent his time reading and making toys out of trash and leftover bits and pieces.
My grandfather spent all day, every day, in his garden and his shed. There were hundreds of plants in any container that could accommodate dirt, and he knew what they all were. We spent many hours just walking around and looking at all the plants, with him explaining what they were, and what they could be used for. Now my father is mid 70s, and spends his days in a similar way, playing with plants and grandchildren, and taking motorcycle rides with my mother. They switched to a trike a few years ago when it became difficult to him to balance the bike and my mother at stoplights. I imagine it will be much the same for however long the old dude is around.
If I have the good fortune to live that long, I hope to do the same thing: spend time playing with my toys and visiting with people.
I used to know a 98-year old who still roto-tilled his own 1/2 acre garden, among several amazing things. As he had been doing that for at least 30 years (the age of the machine) the stones were long gone. But still. They’re beastly machines.
My great grandfather lived to be 102, and was sharp to 101. Fascinating man to know.
Two weeks ago I attended a wedding for my grandmother-in-law, who is 93 and has married an 80 year old whippersnapper. Both of them looked very happy.
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