Saturday, October 29, 2011

Seniors with delightful attitudes

My blogging buddy Chatty Crone shared this clip a few days ago and a discussion on aging and attitudes continues in this post .  First, the clip. Meet Dorothy Custer, a 100 year old lady who appeared on Jay Leno's show this summer.

This lady reminds me of my Uncle Harold who was also a guest on Jay Leno's show. Uncle Harold was invited to the show because of his achievement on the golf course. In May of 2001 he became the oldest American to hit a hole in one at the age of 101. Six years later, Elsie McLean at the age of 102 broke that record, but I don't think Uncle Harold wouldn't have minded. He was a very gracious man. 
ESPN's Page 2 interviewed him in 2001, asking him their "10 Burning Questions". That interview is here in its entirety. I'm only sharing the questions that pertain to life in general.

7. If you could have a superpower what would it be, the strength of 100 men, the ability to fly or be able to turn invisible?
Stilson: "Hmmm. I don't think I would want any of them. I want to be myself."

8. What is the secret of long life?
Stilson: "I don't know. I've lived a nice life. I had a wonderful marriage. My wife and I were married 76 years. She died three years ago. ... If I had my druthers, I would say she was the best-looking woman of the century. I would say toe the line and live life as it comes out. Plus, my mother was 100 when she died, so it's in the genes."

9. What advice would you give to the younger generations?
Stilson: "The best advice, to me, is to make people smile. We have waiters and waitresses here in the home where I live and I always say to them, 'Let me see your teeth.' They do, and they smile and I smile back. That's my philosophy on life. Try to be friendly."

10. Would you like to live your life over again?
Stilson: "No, I certainly would not. I've had a wonderful life and don't regret one bit of it." 

Uncle Harold was 9 weeks short of 102 when he died in 2002.  He was always cheerful. He enjoyed sharing stories of the past, especially with family members, but he definitely lived in the present. I love his answer to the 9th question. Harold was a relative by marriage, not by blood, so I cannot claim the same longevity genes. What I can share is that making people smile is my mission too.

There is another video clip of Dorothy Custer that was done off stage at The Tonight Show. Someone named Bryan asks her a few questions here, some of which are already covered in the embedded clip. The important part begins at 1:35 where she says the secret to a long life is exercise, looking forward rather than backward and that laughter is the main thing. 

Accidents and illness cut some lives way short of our definition of a long life. Sadly, some people continue to have birthdays and reach a big number without any realization of their milestones or who is around them. A few reach their 90s and beyond with bodies and minds still in working order but have chosen to be miserable old cusses. I don't think that happened at a significant birthday. People like that are miserable old cusses in their 30s and simply hone their disagreeable ways throughout their life.

The truly successful seniors are the ones who continue to look ahead, who smile and laugh, who continue to love, who continue to learn, and who make the best of whatever they have. Smiling and laughing isn't just about making you more likable to others, its about making you feel better about yourself. 

My goal is to have a long life but not just to reach a certain age. Getting older happens as long as you are breathing. Have a successful long life happens as long as you are fully engaged in living one. 


Blondie's Journal said...

I certainly hope I become one of those seniors with a positive attitude and always showing my teeth!


Anonymous said...

What a great post. I smiled all of the way through it. The video was funny and I truly enjoyed the interview. Thank you. Happy Halloween!!!