Recently I drove my friend and neighbor, Ben, to undergo a medical treatment in Tupelo.
Ben will arrive at the ripe old age of 92 next month on Christmas day, but he’s managed to remain perpetually young at heart. Spending the day with him was stimulating and it gave me a new appreciation of The Greatest Generation. We talked about “The Big War,’” in which he played a key role, hardships of the Great Depression and how he’s managed to remain married for almost 70 years.
His wisdom was priceless and it didn’t cost me a thing.
I listened and gleaned a great deal of information on how humans can remain useful and engaged with life even into their nineties and beyond. He is an active member of the Starkville Kiwanis Club and walks the three-quarters of a mile almost every day to visit his bride, Dorothy, who is in a personal care home.
He attends mass every Sunday and remembers a time when he was the only Catholic male in the small Arkansas town where he grew up.
As repayment for my taxi service he said he wanted to treat me to lunch. We surveyed the numerous eateries along Highway 45 and settled on a Captain D’s.
It wasn’t only good, it was great. We got a dozen shrimp, two sides and a drink for only $4.99. I think it came to even less, since they gave us the ultra double senior discount. A few short years ago, I would have been offended to be offered a senior discount, but these days I’m just happy to be around to enjoy them.
The cute waitress was so attentive and she hovered over us making conversation and refilling our drinks. At one point, we winked at me and said “So how long have you two cute things been married?”
I lost consciousness for a moment, but was revived by Ben’s gleeful laugh. Either he looks way younger than he is, or I look way older than I am. I refuse to consider the answer to that question, but figure it was a little bit of both.
There’s a beautiful quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt. “Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.” I don’t think I’m there yet, so I’ll just hold on to advice offered by Lucille Ball who said the secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly and lie about your age.
Emily Jones is a retired journalist who lives in Starkville. She edits a website for bouncing baby boomers facing retirement. She welcomes comments at www.deludeddiva.com .