Home economics teacher Claire O’Neal took a bow while facing our sanctuary on her 98th birthday. Her tiny person wished the congregation as many wonderful years as she had lived. Ever since then, I was hooked on the idea of becoming a centenarian.
Soon following the declaration, Miss O’Neal departed with a flourish after cutting spring flowers from her yard, an enchantment which cinched my ambition.
She and my grandfather entertained the same 100 year wish though the heavenly hosts called them in just shy. My grandfather bragged at some point that he had lived to see all the major inventions except the telegraph. He was a living history – a show of shows.
With personal research of esteemed elders stretching back some 30 years (I can not claim to be conscious prior to that), I have noted a common set of magical priorities: taking care of yourself, doing for others, cleaning up your messes and remaining curious. Such goals seem to be lifestyle factors that can only contribute to making the one hundred mark.
Surprisingly the investigation helped me see that emotional health might edge out all the other attributes in effective life extension.
This can be tricky throughout a long run (or even in the short), but my Great Aunt Alfreda Blanks McGee Franklin would smoke a pack a day, toss a few highballs each evening while detesting exercise and still she could ever delete the drama. All eight decades were jammed packed with devices of doom, but they rolled off her back like greased lightening.
This is why I love to recommend meditation because ever since we began this worldwide drama of the first degree, calming the mind might be the most important tool to strengthen ourselves and the beleaguered earth. I can bring the master aunt up now sitting there in the quiet at the end of the day.
Try it. If you do, you’ll get the simmer down message. Only God knows what it will do for your blood pressure and the prospect of eating cake when you are toasted with champagne and green confetti at 100 years.
Anywho, in 2013 I received an embellishment for interviewing master carpenter Jay Morris at his 98th birthday. As I entered his home, he and his daughter Bettie were taking a turn about to a Boots Randolph tune that was spinning on the turntable close to his morning donuts.
I will never forget his boyish smile when he advised, “I believe in the golden rule and with that I can sleep like a baby.” You are not surprised to hear that he danced onto 100 years.
Last week D and I rejoiced in a zoom birthday party for the first president of the first community college in Tennessee Dr. Harold Pryor. He would be 100 that next day keeping pace with the Kiwanis Club which also turns 100 this year. He had been a faithful member for decades.
Beloved family members and coworkers sang a zoomy sort of enthusiastic happy birthday and offered accolades about his steady choice to live for others. For them he was a wise and trusted role model, a person of integrity with well researched decisions. He showed up with a reasoned demeanor under pressure and lent time as mentor and friend with a wide breath of knowledge on endless subjects. I’m surmising that with his cast of character traits, he slept like a baby too.
In 2012 I covered his story for The Daily Herald. He met me at the door of his apartment with a new IPad touting recent studies in cosmology i.e. the nature of the universe!
To live with a functioning intellect until 100 years could be of unspeakable significance. What an explosive intellectual course to be able to see what transpires in a century of maneuvers. If I was so decorated, my three year old granddaughter Margaret would be almost 40!
Certainly this is no contest and it cannot be accomplished without a row through unspeakable heartbreak. Still at this time there are 573,000 centenarians worldwide who are in it for more.
Take Jeanne Calment of France who in 1997 floated away after 122 years. She thrived on 2 pounds of chocolate a week and Port wine.
With this proof we might well pay attention to the Biblical numbers of what humans have the biological potential to live. Considering Ms. Calment’s number, I am just now arriving at middle age.
What’s that – spring training, you say?
I’ll bet the ranch on my Claire O’Neal wish in hopes of maintaining a spring in my step and song in my heart. And errr…. perhaps even a twilight highball in my raised fist.
Here’s to you Alfreda.