He does have longevity on his side; his father lived to be eighty-seven and his mother was ninety-three when she finally passed away. But he has also had two hip replacements and a part of a disc removed from his spine – he can walk two miles but getting in and out of the car is no small feat.
If you saw him in the street you would be sure he was not a day over seventy-one. He lives in his own condo in a large city and still drives a car and rides the subway. His biggest frustration at the moment is that he is being elbowed aside in the gym in his building by some aggressive fifty year olds and their personal trainers, when he wants to use the treadmill.
To keep himself busy, he volunteers about once a week at a University library, writes and paints abstract paintings (which he started up again at the age of seventy-nine), as well as attending hockey games and church now and again. He also cares for my niece after school several times a week when my sister works late and organizes art activities and outings for her when she is on school break.
The most remarkable thing about my dad is he has absolutely no idea how remarkable he really is. He absolutely does not consider himself to be on the cutting edge of the lifestyle that oldsters now aspire to – he does not see himself as a role model to anyone (except perhaps my niece).
Despite this fact, I think it is fair to say there are a great number of us who would love to be him – clear thinking and independent and vital at the age of eighty-one; and this made me stop and consider whether there was something different about him; something that gave him an edge that we could all learn from?
The more that I thought about this the more I realized that he simply believes that he can continue to live an independent life. This is not the same as simply “wanting” to live to be ninety. There are lots of things we all “want” to do but circumstances, or plain old fear stand in our way.
My father is not held back by any of these things because he simply believes in himself – he believes he can continue to be independent and so he naturally adapts to changing circumstances and finds ways to continue forward.
And then I had another thought …. I am fifty years old and still learning things from my father and that is pretty remarkable too. Gee maybe my dad is a wise guy after all!