Today is my wonderful home care agency client's 99th birthday. She has had a number of well wishers stop by already, and her house is filled with flowers, gifts and cards. I had made a small pot roast for our dinner on Saturday and we had our leftovers last night. She likes to say grace before dinner and last night she started to cry – she said she was the luckiest person in the world.
I told her what a special woman she is - she and her husband worked hard through the years to achieve financial security, they had three kids, two of whom live relatively close by and are attentive to her needs. She is blessed with good genes and lives a health conscious lifestyle - healthy diet and regular exercise. She likes to keep busy.
She has a wonderfully sunny personality - possibly a gift from her midwestern upbringing. Pictures of her throughout the home always show her smiling. I wrote in her birthday card how much I've learned about life from her, and that she was my new role model! It's true. She makes the best of everything, says "whatever happens, happens" and that her motto for many years is not to worry about anything. I could sure take a lesson from that!
My pragmatic side tries to deconstruct some of the secrets of her success - having a long term marriage to a man who provided financial security is one of them, since she did not ever work outside the home. A son manages her finances and household maintenance, freeing her from the dread "worry" about those things. She's had her health challenges through the years, but she has a good support network which has helped to pull her through. She still has many friends, and attracts people to her through her open heart, kindness and generosity of spirit. And this is decades before the philosophy of The Secret came out, promoting the laws of attraction. She's a natural!
But that positive attitude! How does one cultivate that in midlife if one is not gifted with a naturally sunny disposition? It is one thing to manage worry through planning, taking action, not procrastinating etc. but quite another to transform a serious nature into a cheerful one. I have a feeling that this trait is one of her most powerful assets. An intellectual knowledge of the destructive power of worry is one thing; to "exorcise" worry, cynicism and negative thinking is quite another. Some would say to lean on faith and prayer. Today, on her 99th birthday, to honor her I will more closely consider this "magic pill" of successful aging and report back.