When I Grow Up...

“Become friends with people who aren’t your age.” Roumaissa


One of my BFFs (I refuse to have just one; I know too many wonderful women) is an 89-year-old retired nurse.  I got to know her decades ago through a shared love of reading when I managed a small public library. I want to be just like her when I “grow up”.  Anyone who’s closing in on 90 and has I see no good reason to act my age posted on her refrigerator is someone worth emulating, in my opinion.

This woman would be amazing at any age.  Her lively sense of curiosity and fun along with her thirst for new adventures are a constant source of delight to me.  “I’m going to a special exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Art next month,” she told me recently. “Nice! What’s the topic?” I inquired.  “I have no idea,” she responded. “Someone had an extra ticket and asked if I wanted to go. I said yes, of course.”

Of course.  “Yes!” tends to be her enthusiastic response to just about any suggestion for an outing whether it’s a drive in the country near her apartment or a trip halfway across America.  The picture above was taken in the Badlands on our vacation to Montana two years ago (Unforeseen bonus of traveling with a woman of mature years who knows how to plan ahead? We got into Badlands National Monument free because she brought her Golden Age Passport).

What’s her secret? I don’t believe it’s any one thing but rather a combination of traits.  She has an insatiable curiosity for a wide range of topics and is a voracious reader. She has a deep abiding faith in God that doesn’t preclude her being open and accepting of people with different ideas or beliefs.  She has an engrossing hobby through which she expresses her creativity and an ability to find humor in the everyday occurrences of life.

She knows the importance of being physically active, too.  There’s nothing like being walked into the ground by someone 32 years your senior to illustrate that it’s past time to get off your tush and MOVE.  “I try to climb the stairs in my building three times a day,” she mentioned during my last visit.  She lives on the fourth floor...

Has she led a charmed life? Not at all.  In addition to the usual challenges involved with being married and raising five children she has survived the loss of her husband and an adult child, two hip replacements, open heart surgery and a bout of cancer.

One of her more recent medical adventures included a two and a half hour ambulance ride followed by a pacemaker insertion.  “I don’t suppose we could take a helicopter” she asked the ER physician. “That would be really interesting!”

And maybe THAT'S her secret in a nutshell: she finds life interesting.  It’s hard to avoid being worn down by the grind of everyday life, not to mention the extra challenges that pop up.  With this lady as my example, I can choose to look beyond the surface and find something worth learning in the everyday occurrences of life.

What about you?  Who - or what - do you find inspiring and why?