How to Live to be 100

(Advice From Grandpa)

My grandfather, my last living grandparent, turned 98 earlier this year and while he’s in a wheelchair now and his hearing and memory aren’t quite what they were even a year ago, he’s still sharp as a tack. And has the physical health of a person more than 20 years his junior, his doctors tell us. So it seems natural to think that perhaps he knows something the rest of us haven’t yet figured out.

My father asked him what’s his secret, or trick, if there is one, to having lived for so long and seemingly entirely calmly and contentedly for most of it and his reply, without missing a beat was “pickles.” Which sounds ludicrous but apparently, having grown up without refrigeration, he preferred foods to be pickled and between his daily pickled food and tin of sardines intake, his doctors claim that must be the explanation for his “skin of a 70-year-old.” After an extended laugh, dad pressed his father for perhaps what he considered to be a less flippant answer, asking, “but seriously, what’s your secret?” Grandpa replied:

Who cares?

This elicited even more confused laughter from dad as he asked whether that was grandpa’s answer or his opinion on the question. Grandpa qualified with:

That’s the answer — don’t worry so much. About anything, but especially the small stuff. Who cares? It’s not worth the energy.

I’m pretty sure this is some of the best advice I’ve ever received and since hearing this “grandpa story” during my weekly call to my parents, I have tried to really take these words to heart, and not in a flippant way, but a meaningful and healthy way. Can I do anything about this (immediate catastrophe) right now? No? Then let it go for now — who cares?

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