A Truly Inspirational 96-year-old’s Birthday and Wisdom

The best, most meaningful 96th birthday celebration I ever attended.
Sr. Advisor R is an example of aging well, a model for us. Read on about her and the luncheon that celebrates her. We’re also reminded
“What Comes Around, Goes Around.”

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. The babies have graduated high school and college and new families have filled homes that the others have left. R is a surrogate grandmother, mother and wise friend to young and old. Who else would have a turkey dinner sent to a neighbor’s son at college to share with friends who couldn’t be home for Thanksgiving?

R didn’t want a celebration for her 95th birthday. This year was different. A neighbor in her 40’s was giving R a 96th birthday luncheon. 11 guests (ages 13-96). The hostess’s 13-year-old daughter wanted to be there as did her 25-year-old sister (recuperating from an ankle fracture).

The large dining room table was extended to seat all the guests. It was set beautifully. Stemmed glasses, hand-decorated by the hostess with each guest’s name, replaced place cards. Lunch was simple and tasty, lovingly prepared by the hostess and the 13-year-old. The personal touch and the caring were evident from beginning to end.

No commercial gifts–something more priceless: memories–spontaneously asked for by the hostess and shared around the large dining room table. A 50-something-year-old guest expressed how fortunate she felt to live across the street, saying after her mother died, she turned to R for understanding and wisdom.

Another shared a time her husband and son were having difficulties and R suggested writing a note expressing her thoughts, instead of entering into an argument creating heated emotions. It works!

The 13-year-old said R was responsible for her New York trip with her class last spring, when her parents were uncertain about financing it. R explained to her mother why it would be a worthwhile experience (and gave the child a bit of spending money for the trip). R was as dear to these younger and older women as they were to her.

R has lived a long time, making the effort 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? Well, everyone and every one of her 40+ birthday cards with notes say she is.

And 11 of us fortunate females experienced what it’s like to genuinely celebrate someone who more than touched all of our lives. No large, fancy celebration could replicate this.

Related: 2014 updatePearls of Wisdom from our 99-year-old Sr. Advisor, R.

Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities and respected professionals, plus practical information–to help parents age well.
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