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  • Writer's pictureJane Leder

Wit, Wisdom & Luck: Living To Be 100 (or almost)

I don't know about you, but I find myself cheering out loud whenever I hear about a woman in her 90s or older who dies. Of course, I'm not happy about their leaving this world for whatever is next; it's just that it gives me hope that I, too, will lead a long and, hopefully, healthy, fulfilling life. There is strength in numbers.

We rarely hear about someone's--just anyone's--great grandmother or great aunt--who lives well into their nineties. Maybe there's a post on Facebook (I linked to one in my last blog) about a woman who is spry and active and happy to be alive. For the most part, though, it's celebrities who make the news.

Doris Day, age 90

Like Doris Day. She died at 97 just two weeks ago. I know you may have been surprised that she was, until that day, still alive. I know I was. Day didn't like to give interviews; she'd stayed out of the public eye for decades. But Terry Gross, host of NPR's "Fresh Air," snagged a chat with Day that aired one day before her 88th birthday.

I listened to the interview in my car on the way home from spending way too much on a new bra. (Just for the record: I had no idea that bra sizes went beyond DDDs.)

Anyway, back to Terry Gross's interview. She asked Day why she'd left the movies. Day explained that she felt a need to "quiet down." She moved to Carmel where she got involved in the SPCA and, at one time, had thirty dogs living in her home.

Maybe it was her love of animals or maybe the longevity genes she inherited. But in this interview, Day sounded upbeat and at peace with the life she'd created post Hollywood.

So, yes, I cheered for Doris Day--for her long, eventful life.

I cheer for men, too, like the author Herman Wouk who died ten days before turning 104! He was working on yet another book (!) to follow Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year-Old Author. Wouk credited his long life to a loving marriage, writing, and faith.

A year or two back, I wrote about filling in my birth year on one online form or another. You're asked to scroll down (or up) to click on the year you were born. For me, scrolling down to 1945 could be a depressing exercise. It took so damn long! Where had all those years gone? Had I used them wisely? Did I need to make amends and then some changes? I suppose one good thing about being an older women (man) is that we have the luxury of experience and can look back with an appreciation of what was and what may come. Still, I wish those computer nerds would figure out a more humane way of plugging in our date of birth. Maybe they should take pity on us older folks and start with the oldest among us and move down from there. Our time is precious.


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