This past Sunday, my wife Edie and I traveled to Wild and Wonderful West Virginia to attend an 87th birthday party for our friend Ruth (real first name only). We met Ruth and her late husband over 40 years ago and have been friends over the years. We hadn’t seen her for a while.
Ruth looked great — slim and trim and mentally as sharp as ever. She opened her birthday presents with the dexterity and enthusiasm of a six year old, and read her cards like she had the eyes of a twenty year old — no glasses and no contacts. She read the handwritten parts too.
Six months ago, Ruth fell and broke her hip. She was wearing high heels at the time and the doctor told her that she would never wear them again. But she told the doctor what he could do with her high heels, and she was wearing them Sunday at her party.
The doctor told her that because of her age and the severity of her fall, she would have a slow and drawn out recovery. But she told the doctor that she had a wedding to attend in a couple of months and she was “damned if she was going to walk down the aisle with a walker”. She didn’t. She didn’t even use a cane. The doctors, as well as her family, were totally astounded at her recovery.
Last week she was out walking and she fell again, in the middle of the street. Someone came along and helped her up. She brushed herself off and walked home. She said she hurt her shoulder and her side was sore, but that was it.
What’s the secret of Ruth’s dynamic recovery and the personal energy and vitality she exudes?
As far as I know, Ruth was never an formal exerciser. But Ruth never slowed down. She was and is always moving, doing something physical, and you couldn’t slow her down if you tried. Perhaps she has slowed down a little now, but if her attitude and demeanor are any indication, she won’t be slowed down for long. If her daughter hadn’t told us, we would not have suspected a broken hip and a second fall, all in just the past six months.
Ruth is also feisty and opinionated. She has always been demanding of herself. She was raised on a farm in Virginia and did the hard farm work as a child. She never let up on herself and has continued to be an active and difficult taskmaster, even now at age 87. She just recently retired.
Ruth will be moving in a couple of months. Not to an assisted living community, but to a nice independent apartment. Her daughter and son in law are moving to North Carolina and they are taking Ruth along. Ruth said at first that she had no intention of moving. She finally relented, but only with the assurance that she could have her own independent apartment or condo.
Ruth is a prime example of a person who is her own Fountain of Youth. Statistically, most of those who experience a fall and broken hip at age 86 don’t last much longer than six months after the incident. Her attitude toward life is as positive as I’ve ever seen, and I doubt if she will ever stop physical activity. Ruth should be an example and an inspiration for all of us as we move into and through our senior years.
Will we be there for Ruth’s 100th birthday? We’re counting on it.
Thank you for reading.