My father just turned 89. “Did you ever think you’d live this long?” I asked him. “No,” he said. I’m sure glad he has. I’m learning from him how to get old. The last year and a half has not been easy for him: moving from their home, community and church of over 25 years, and even more difficult, losing my mother last June. Yet while he still grieves the many losses, especially of my mom, he does his best to stay engaged. He goes to church, he attends activities at the facility where he lives, he continues to engage with people. We took him out for hamburgers last Saturday to celebrate his birthday, and while he was waiting for us to gather our things to leave, he said to some people coming in, “I ate all the hamburgers!” then reassured them he was just joking. Turns out one of them was celebrating his birthday, too — 39! We all agreed my dad looks pretty good for 89.
Here are some other things I’ve learned from him:
To marry (and stay married to) someone who continues to fascinate and interest you.
To be friendly to everyone. (My dad never met a stranger.)
To do work you love (he worked until he was 85, and still misses it).
Not to give up on life when it is difficult.