(*happily updating my original post from February, 2015 when my Dad had his 92nd birthday. Now it is nearly February 1, 2017 – his 94th!)
Better to have a birthday than not, says my Dad very matter-of-factly. Consider the alternative, he often tells me. He will celebrate his 94th birthday this Wednesday, February 1.
His pragmatic approach to life – serious when he needs to be, humorous when not, and some great luck in the health department – has gotten him to this milestone.
But exactly how has he managed to reach it?
I thought about this and wondered. For this is a man whose idea of exercise is to lift the remote ever so slightly to aim it at the TV. He eats salami, drinks beer and sees his friend, the doctor, quite frequently – but for lunch, rather than for a check-up. As a well-regarded-in-his-community lawyer who still goes to the office every day to the firm he founded in 1951, he strongly prefers to give – rather than take advice.
Perhaps what keeps him going is his love for his family? – not that I have ever heard him say the word “love” aloud.
A tough guy, Mr. U.S. Marine Corps, WWII Vet, he shies away from emotion. But he shows it by his actions, always being there with wise counsel when my sister and I need it. Staying strong for us when our Mom died far too young. Taking great joy in his four grandchildren, his three-year-old and nearly one-year-old great-grandsons – and bestowing tender care upon his wife, my stepmother, as her dementia sadly advances.
If I knew precisely what got him to this point of great age and great wisdom, I would bottle it and win a Nobel prize. But since that is extremely unlikely to happen, I decided, in the spirit of Dr. Seuss, a childhood favorite, to make an educated guess, and offer the following:
9 Rows To Oar If You Want to Reach 94
It is not easy to turn 94
You have to know how to soar.
First, you stay married for a very long time
And Second, be frugal and save every nickel and dime.
The Third thing to try is to go to the office every day
And on the weekends to watch Eli athletes at play.
For the Fourth, you must get the Sunday New York Times
To do the puzzle speedily, in ink, no matter what the rhymes.
And the Fifth thing to be at your best?
Take regular naps, enjoy getting your rest.
Sixth? Call your “kids” every Sunday morning at 10:30. sharp
But keep the calls brief, you don’t want to carp.
Now we are at number Seven, which could keep heaven at bay
Find time for the spiritual, perhaps even pray.
And the Eighth, what could that possibly be?
Provide wise counsel for many without charging a fee.
But the Ninth thing, the one that we treasure the most?
It’s when you tell jokes, laugh loudly, even at your own roast.
For it is your humor, your sense of the absurd
That lets you stand out from the ordinary herd.
Repeat all of your stories, not one of them is new
And yet each time you tell them we get another view.
Of your fair-minded approach, your sense of what’s right
The battles to skip, and which ones to fight.
So there you have it, the Nine rows you must oar,
If you want to reach the wise old age of 94.
Take my advice if you want to become a sage like my Dad
And then what a glorious life you will have had.