This piece was originally published in The Gratitude Book Project: In Celebration of Personal Heroes, a special, free e-book in commemoration of Sept. 11, 2001. If you have trouble downloading it, email me at eliz…@heartspoken.com and I'll send it to you.
My mother and father, ages 87 and 93, are my personal heroes for so many reasons, but I admire them especially at this time in their lives for choosing to embrace the challenges of aging with extraordinary courage, grace, and humor.
“I want to live until I die,” has been my father’s mantra, and they have both lived fully and joyfully in spite of health challenges and the psychological pressures of age that seem to defeat those who are less robust in their outlook on life. Whoever said “Growing old is not for sissies” certainly had it right.
The cynic would say they have no choice…age is staring them right in the face and will happen whether they want it to or not. That’s true, but what makes them remarkable is they have chosen to:
- Keep moving and stay physically active.
- Take control of the things in their lives they can control and accept the things they can’t.
- Keep thinking and reading and conversing.
- Cultivate friendships and be good friends to others.
- Stay involved in the lives of their children and grandchildren.
- Accept invitations and have fun.
- Practice generosity.
- Dwell on the positive.
They are fun to be around, and they are beloved by their family and friends.
Mom and Dad are my personal heroes only partly because their choices have made my life easier and minimized my need to make decisions for them. The real reason is they have given me – and everyone who knows them – a precious gift of hope…hope that as WE get to the years when Mother Nature seems to take away so much, we, too, can reach down into those deep reserves of courage, faith, and love for the strength to face whatever lies ahead.
Mom and dad, I salute you, with gratitude and so much love.