My Grandpa Bud turned 95 today. Well built with a sharp rational mind and good spirit, this man is an inspiration. He could easily see another decade just as his father did (104).
He lives in a tiny room in Florida with 1 desk, 1 chair, 1 twin bed, 1 small tv and a cd player. The walls are bare except for a picture of my mom, my uncle, my grandma Betty and Priscilla (his second love). Everything he owns fits neatly in the room. In the file cabinet of his desk are specific instructions for what to do when he passes. They’ve been sitting there for at least a decade.
But a decade is only a small portion of his life. At 95 years old, he’s seen a lot of change. A star athlete in his youth, a young Navy sailor in world war II, a hard worker in his adult life and a planner all along, one of my favorite things to do is get him talking about the jobs he’s had, the places he’s lived and what his life has been like. When I do, he scoots to his one file drawer and pulls out a handwritten, photocopied list of all the jobs he’s had. He’s got one for all the cars he’s owned too. He’s organized like this. The amazing list of jobs range from washing dishes in New York to cruising the south pacific (New Caledonia included) on a Navy ship, to teaching high school.
“I learned a long time ago – many, many, many years ago – that wars don’t mean diddly squat. I figured that life was precious. So if they wanted me, they’d have to come and get me. ” Van Buren Moody on being drafted for WWII
Born into an educated, New England family and the son of the superintendent, he appreciated the value of school. When my mom was about eight, Grandpa packed his young family in their station wagon and headed west for the gold coast. He knew the college system in southern California was affordable and his kids would have access to a good education. He became a school teacher in San Diego and was adored by his students until he retired. It was here that my beautiful sun-kissed barefoot mother bumped into my dad who was finishing up the Marine Corps in 1968.
I’m lucky to be a descendant of this cool dude. His body is a little beat up from years of athletics (and life), but his mind and spirit are strong as ever. He’s totally with it and super friendly. Greeting everyone in the hallway by name, he cruises down to the pool hall almost every day to school the young men in a game of 8 or 9 ball. He drives to get his haircut or go to his favorite restaurant, Widow Brown.
He lives simply and mindfully. He doesn’t accumulate a lot of stuff, stays healthy, reads the newspaper and thinks, listens to classical music and walks as much as he can. He’s has two long, enduring loving relationships and always drives a safe car. I don’t know his secret to living so long, but I’m glad he’s got to figured it out.
Just by being himself, he has anchored my core philosophy and given me the perspective that life is both short and long. He has a great ability to plan for the future, enjoy his day-to-day life and know when its time to say YES to a big change.
In my mind he’s a bit of a real life yogi (without ever having been on the mat).