98th birthdayR–AGE 100 (photo taken on her 98th birthday) was widowed at 51 and has one far-away-living son (my husband). She was a stay-at-home mom (typical of her generation), involved in community affairs.

Independence is her highest priority; she doesn’t want to be taken care of. So she exercises (still uses a 45-year-old tread mill), and “I don’t abuse myself.” Translated: eats right, rations her energy for what’s important and makes the effort to be with people she cares about. She uses taxis and handles all of her affairs, and reads widely. She’s still savvy.

Living in the same home since the 1940’s, R has welcomed many young families and babies to the neighborhood–always with a small gift for the babies. She’s a surrogate grandmother and mother and is a wise friend to young and old. What other person (in her late 80’s at the time) would have a Thanksgiving dinner sent to a neighbor’s son in college to share with his room-mates who couldn’t make it home for the holiday?

R has lived a long time, making the effort (it gets harder every year, she says) to remain involved, always thoughtful with words and deeds. Is that what enables her to so successfully span generations? Is it her genuine interest in others or the fact that you hear wisdom and feel a solid connection to what matters when she talks with you? Is it because she’s an inspiration and remarkable? Everyone says she is.

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