“Mavis Lindregn, born in Manitoba, Canada, where temperatures sometimes plummet to 55 degrees below, had a history of illnesses—whooping cough, tuberculosis, and chronic chest colds, which often developed into pneumonia.
“Then at 62, Mavis discovered running, and she hasn’t stopped since. ‘After I started running, I never had another cold. I’ve been sick once in nine years. I had a real bad type of flu. It lasted three hours.’
“She ran her first marathon at 70, along the Avenue of the Giants in northern California’s Humboldt Redwood State Park, and won a trophy for oldest finisher. Six months later she finished the Honolulu Marathon . . . She has run two marathons since then, celebrating her 71st birthday with the last one.”
When I start to feel the limitations of a body no longer 20 or 30 something, I am inspired by the stories of people who don’t let age slow them down. I don’t try to duplicate their achievements—they are the incredible super heroes—but I do tend to pull up websites and start planning something that is challenging for me.
One of my good friends, who has a daughter my age, recently signed up for classes at a university, not toward a degree, but because she likes to learn. She also just returned from a week long camping trip and is now planning an adventure that involves a commitment of many months without her grandchildren (it won’t be the first time she and her husband do this).
My sister, who has five adult children, recently climbed Half Dome in Yosemite with her youngest, a twelve year-old working on his hiking merit badge. The last 500 feet, they gripped cables and pulled their way to the top. Her son received plenty of attention, but I am impressed with my sister. Did I mention that she’s the mother of eight?!
My daughter-in-law’s grandpa, now 80, only just a couple of years ago stopped runing 100 mile races. You read that right—not marathons—100 miles through mountain trails! He still runs fifty milers and works a full day, every day, at the greenhouse he owns and running around his farm.
Ben Woolsey, a retired postal worker, regularly places a summit register on a local mountain, Mt. Timpanogos, that rises 7000 feet above the valley floor. Known as “The Old Man of the Mountain,” at one time Woolsey held the record for lifetime summits.
Nearing the end of a milestone year, I’ve decided that growing old is not about a number, or wrinkles, or achy joints. It’s about our choices, our attitude, and whether or not we’re still moving forward. The happiest people, who are older than me, are the most positive, they are always learning, and they are active.
I believe we grow old when we grind down to a stop—mentally or physically; when we allow limitations to weigh heavier than potential; when we lose our enthusiasm to doubts and when we start seeing people’s faults rather than their hearts.
Accept new limitations, but don’t let them stop us or cloud our attitudes. Smile, touch someone, go for a walk or a hike, learn something new, and then close each day in gratitude.
Born in 1911, then 95 year old, Nola Ochs graduated with a degree in history from Fort Hays State University in Kansas. After graduation, she was hired by Princess Cruises as a guest lecturer on a nine-day Caribbean cruise. Nola said, “I’ve led a long, interesting life. . . But it’s been the Lord’s will that I’ve lived this long life, and I thank Him kindly for it.”