June 8, 2020
This talk was given to Target Construction management, properties at the request of Steve Makredes, Vice president, during a Target Zoom video meeting on June 8, 2020.
Mae West, a burlesque queen in the 1950s and 60s, is credited with the saying, “Growing old isn’t for sassies”.
Several years ago, a group of us retired males started a book club. We call ourselves the “Old Geezers Book Group”. We now meet twice a week by zoom and discuss the book we are all reading. One of the books we read was, “Successful Aging”. It was written in the late 1990s and had a lot of research information about aging. It summarized the research by stating that successful aging comes down to three activities— (1) Exercise, (2) Diet, (3) Social involvement. Now let me give you some of my experiences.
The subject of my talk today is RESILIENCE. The definition of Resilience is—The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. I’m not sure why Steve choose me to talk on this subject but when you have been around for nearly 91 years you will have experienced periods of difficulties.
I have broken down a few activities I’ve worked on over the past 30 years that have helped me. (1) I retired at 60, (2) At 85 I experienced deep depression, (3) I focused on taking family trips. So, let’s start—
- At 60 years of age I retired from my employer after 25 years of service.
- Mary Ann and I planned a trip in September 1989 to travel to Europe and take a Russian River boat down the Danube from Vienna to Istanbul. In October 1989 the Berlin Wall came down.
- Mary Ann was on the faculty at the University of Minnesota. Two of her associates were writing a Manual on career planning. The title was “The Inventurers”.
- I took the workbook along because I thought at 60, I should plan my career for the rest of my life. So, each day I would go up on the deck by myself and respond to the questions in the manual.
- The very first question was the most difficult. The question was how long are you going to live? I thought about that question for a couple days before I put my answer down.
- My first thought was to use my parents ages but at that time both of my parents were still alive. My father lived to be 85 and my mother to 101.
- My second thought was to live to be 100, but I decided that I didn’t want to live to be 100 if I wasn’t viable.
- I finally put down 98. That would give me 38 years more years. At the time 38 years seemed like an eternity. I can tell you these past 31 years seem to have gone by like a blink of an eye.
- The thought of 38 more years opened a whole new reality.
- I would need to take care of my body, so I continued to go to the YMCA and play racquetball and participate in water aerobics.
- The second thought was that I need to maintain my mental ability. I decided one way to keep mentally sharp was to set up my own business. So, I contracted with my former employer to market one of their waste products.
- The third point that I thought about was that I would need to have enough assets to last until I reached 98. With conservative investing and having a good investment counselor we now can live comfortably until I’m well past 98.
- Another important part of my 38 more years to live has included growing in my spiritual life. Active participation in church and spiritual renewal retreats has been important to me. In 1997 we traveled to Israel. Your faith is never the same once you have walked where Jesus walked. I have also become involved with a spiritual group that has met for breakfast every two weeks for the past 22 years and now meet by Zoom every Tuesday morning.
- So, during the past 31 years when I needed to make a decision that involved my physical and mental health and financial questions, my decision was based on my plan to live to 98.
- When I had my period of depression as I reached 85, I read Joan Chittister’s book titled, “The Gift of Years”. The short chapters were about such things as Losses, and Memories. The chapter that caught my attention was, Dreams. I wasn’t dreaming of anything outside of my own dark room. That is when I got the idea of getting involved with the Senior Games and compete in racquetball, shot put, discus, and javelin, which I competed in while I was in college.
- When I closed my business after 27 years, I was 87. I started working on developing a Family Mission Statement, Family Vision Statement and family core values. At Mary Ann and my 50th anniversary last August 23rd we celebrated at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park Colorado. We restated our vows and had 42 of our family and friends help us celebrate. We gave everyone a photo book with many pictures of our family trips and included our family Mission and Vision Statements and family core values.
- I am now working on developing my own web site and including many of my digitized photos, some going back more than 90 years. I have over 70 albums of trips and special events. I do this in my office/ “Man Cave” where I go for 4 to 6 hours several days a week. This project may take me well past 98.
- When Steve contacted me about speaking on “resilience” I had to think about how I could summarize the years since I retired. I have been very blessed to be married to my best friend, I have had good health which has included double knee and a shoulder replacements, and except for my period of depression, I have had projects in mind to keep me interested. As you can see, there have been challenges along the way that have demanded flexibility and planning. That could be described as resilience.