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.

Confessions of a 90+ Year Old Man After a Weekend Walk to Emmaus

January 21, 2020

“Dear Smith Family,


Last evening, I returned from the Minnesota Walk to Emmaus weekend retreat.  I was part of the team that were leaders for the weekend.  I was a table leader and gave one of the 15 talks that were presented over the weekend.  My talk was titled “The Body of Christ”.  It took a lot of thought creating the 23-minute speech.  The talk was well received and was based primarily on 90+ years of my life.  If any of you would like to get a copy of the talk, let me know. Continue reading “Confessions of a 90+ Year Old Man After a Weekend Walk to Emmaus”


50 Year Anniversary Celebration

Dear Family,

This email is being sent to only family.  We will soon be adding friends who we will invite.  We want to be sure there will be a bed for all family members who want to join in our celebration.

Attached you will find a copy of our recent trip to see the facilities and layout for our “50 year anniversary celebration”.  Look it over and let us know if you have any questions or thoughts.

Over the next 16 to 17 weeks you will be getting emails regarding various events.  Here are some of our first plans:

Continue reading “50 Year Anniversary Celebration”


The Soul of Aging

Mary Ann deep in the forest at the Alton Collins Retreat Center at Eagle Creek, Oregon where we attended the conference on “The Soul of Aging”.

Very good program on aging!  “Old age is a gift, that not everyone gets.”

Flying back from Portland to Minneapolis Mary Ann had a stroke which apparently was caused by her high blood pressure.  As we got of the plane in Minneapolis her right arm and lower lip were numb.  She didn’t seek medical attention for several days but later MRIs determined that she had a blockage in the left side of her brain.  Dr. Erickson is a hypertension doctor and has been very helpful in stabilizing her blood pressure.  She has AFib which causes her blood pressure and pulse to be quite irregular. (added 12/21/2020)  

Mary Ann – Alton Collins Retreat Center, Eagle Creek, Oregon

Friday, May 17, 2019–Sad news today.  Mary Ann had a MRI this morning and the Doctors confirmed that she had a TIA in the left side of her brain.  She noticed a numb feeling on her right cheek and right arm last Friday when we flew back from the Portland retreat “The Soul of Aging”.  The numb sensation has been reduced but is still present.

Vanda Niemi is a good friend and a neurologist has looked at the MRI results and has suggested some medication.  Vanda will be visiting us later this evening and give us more information. For now I hope the family will pray for Mary Ann.  

Monday, May 20, 2019–Mary Ann will be having an Echo-Cardiogram tomorrow at the U of M.  Her blood pressure is running very high.  She will be having some checking on an embolism on one of her arteries on the right side of her brain.  They may need to put a stint in the embolism area.  Trying to get a referral to Abbot to get that checked out.  She is functioning real well and has a good attitude.  Prayers will help as she works through this health issue.