254...Two, Five, Four...Two hundred and fifty four - That’s the score my grandfather posted this past week in the final game of the afternoon at his weekly bowling league. Not too bad for a 90 year old...Yes, that’s right I said, “90 year old”. And yes, that’s right I am bragging. Why? Easy, because I’m impressed. And not with the score; he bowled a 76 the prior week, so chances are he was just having an “on night” with some good luck. I’m impressed for a much greater reason. I’m impressed because after 9 decades on this planet he still has the fortitude each week to get up, drive to a bowling alley and spend an afternoon out, competing and socializing with his friends. Ninety years of living and this man is still on the move.
With June officially being Men’s Health Month, I thought a little exploration into the daily activities and routines of my grandfather could do us all some good. What is it about his lifestyle and actions, aside from good fortune, that keeps him living and moving in a way which may inspire us? Well, it’s not because his health is perfect - because it’s not. His eyes are going, he has diabetes, hypertension is an issue, he lost his wife of 53 years and his balance is not what it used to be. So who is this man and what lessons can we take from his life?
Stay Physically Active: Since being stationed in Newfoundland, Canada, while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces as a Radioman during WWII, I don’t believe my grandfather has slowed down for a day. Even at 90. Whether he’s attempting to bowl a 300, driving to Aldi’s to buy his groceries for the week, or cleaning the gutters on his house that he built with his bare hands in 1958, his body is constantly in motion. To this day, the man still has an affinity for yard work. If the lawn needs to be mowed, he’s out there cutting it. If there’s a foot of fresh snow in the driveway, give him a shovel. Of course, this drives my mom crazy. Something about the image of a 90 year old man, outside, alone, shoveling an ice covered driveway in the middle of winter is a little scary to her. Nonetheless, it keeps him happy and feeling good, so...
Stay Mentally Active: He hasn’t grown tired of learning new things and remains inquisitive about almost everything. There is no shortage of Word Finder puzzles next to his chair in the living room and a daily read of the newspaper is a must. If he doesn’t know something, he’ll stay with it until he figures it out, whether this is through trial and error or seeking out someone who may possess the answer. He’s a student of life and every day is an opportunity to learn something new.
Stay Social: My grandfather loves to talk…to everybody…about everything…and anything. He likes to tell his stories about the past and about the new things he’s recently learned. Sometimes even if he knows you might not be that interested he still likes to try to pull you in. He gets excited and gets you excited too. Even if it’s the 15th time he’s told you about how he and his fellow soldiers had to be checked for hernias during the war, you’ll still find yourself sitting there listening. In addition to sharing his stories, he’s also very generous in other ways. He is always giving and helping out his family when they are in need. He stays connected with the people that are still in his life and holds those relationships dear to his heart. This includes all of his buddies that he chats with on his ham radio – See you’re never too old for a social network.
Be Conscious of What You Eat: My grandfather grew up during the depression and still loves a good value to this day. I don’t think he’s ever been inside a Whole Foods Market or Trader Joe’s in his life, but he can tell you where to find the best value on an item, why he’s eating it and why he thinks it’s good for him. Now a lot of the time his beliefs and reasons are totally different from my own personal knowledge and beliefs. But, if he believes that a spoonful of vinegar every morning is what keeps him healthy then that is the elixir of health. Right or wrong aside, he is conscious of what he puts into his body, knows what makes him happy and makes sure that he always enjoys his food.
It goes without saying that my grandfather has been lucky to maintain good health. A lot of people might try to live a very healthy lifestyle and won’t have that same good fortune. But more than lucky, what’s inspiring to me is that even with the limitations and losses that have come with 90 years of life he’s found a way of living that keeps him happy as well as physically and mentally moving. I can only hope I get to remember these lessons when I’m 90 – Does anyone have some vinegar?