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Lessons learned from a 101 year gentleman

Last month I was visiting family at the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountain foothills on the east side in Colorado.  On Sunday we drove 25 miles to attend the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Fellowship Church. The congregation consisted of about 50 ranch families and locals.  As the service started and the pastor asked about announcements, a lady stood up and said that she had an announcement.

“Many of you know that I just turned 74 years old.  Next year will be my 75th.  That will be a pretty good celebration.  But before then, I want to share with you that the first Sunday in June we will be celebrating my father’s 101st birthday!”

She then pointed to an elderly gentleman sitting next to her.  He smiled and waved at the congregation. I actually saw him walk in prior to the service beginning.


After the service, he was standing out in the reception area and I walked over to talk to him. He was standing unassisted and was so coherent and pleasant to have an enjoyable conversation.

I asked him, “I know you get this question a lot but what’s your secret to good health?”

He said, “20 years ago I turned 80 yrs. old and figured I better start taking better care of myself so I started walking 5-7 miles a day and still do to this day.  I’m not on any medications of any kind. I do take vitamins and eat well.  I eat a lot fish with omega-3 oils.  I also learned that there are a few key pillars to live by. Do you want to hear about them?”

I said, “You bet, I’ve love to hear your perspective.”


“Ok” he said, “Here we go:

Pillar #1 – Our body is a temple but so many times we treat it like a bowling alley instead.  Exercise and eat healthy.


Pillar #2 –Enjoy the gift of relationships.  Relationships are like a garden, you have to cultivate them. Once you get them growing the maintenance is pretty easy.


Pillar #3 – Be a Life-long learner.  Be curious about your world, your role in it  and reflect back on your lessons learned and share them.


Pillar #4 – Give back to others.  I go work at the senior center and help other seniors.  Most are in their 60’s and 70’s.  Sometimes I work in the kitchen, other times setting up for special occasions and other times I lead conversations on specific topics.


Pillar #5 – Be Grateful.  Life has a lot to offer and provide for us.  Be thankful for family, friends and relationships.  Keep in mind, we make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.  And son remember this key takeaway: Silent gratitude is useless!”


I was floored.  I had just been given a very solid education on some key pillars in life.  I had almost walked away with talking with the gentleman and then said to myself, “What do I have to lose? I’ll walk over and say hi and wish him all the best for his 101st birthday.

I was so glad I did.