Saturday, December 29, 2012

100 Years of Life

I cannot fathom living 100 years. It was our pleasure to attend our first 100th birthday party this year. My great Aunt Helen was born on 12/12/12.
She is amazing. She said to me, "I don't have an ache or a pain--not even a headache." I thought how pathetic I am with my aches and pains.

She does have macular degeneration and only recently started using a cane for support.

When someone lives this long, you wonder how they did it--what is the secret? I can think of two factors that are unique to Aunt Helen. I don't know if they are the secret to a long life, but I do think they have something to do with it.

First, she pulls no punches. She never hesitated whenever we visited her over the years to to tell us that we had gained weight or that we ate well (things we obviously knew and didn't really like being reminded of). She never thought twice about telling her thoughts. Perhaps not agonizing about what others think about what you say can add years on to your life. She was brutally honest. No pretenses.
Yet, why as I write this, do I feel a tinge of guilt telling the truth about her? I guess I just don't take after her.  

 Another trait of Aunt Helen's that will go down in our family history is the historic "Aunt Helen sliver or slice". When we served dessert and asked her if she wanted a piece, she would say just a tiny sliver and then she would show us. It would be the tiniest slice you could imagine. It has become a joke in our family when someone says they want just a little piece--how little? An Aunt Helen slice?

This Aunt Helen's only son, Donald.

Now as the new year approaches and I toy with the idea of a New Year's resolution to lose weight, I wonder if the best diet would be an Aunt Helen's sliver diet--eat anything you want, only in miniature portions. It certainly worked for her.

The picture below is of Aunt Helen and her second husband, Uncle Bill. He was thirteen years younger than her. He died last year at age 87. Who would have thought that she would out live him? They married when he was 25 and she was 38. 
We loved watching their relationship. Uncle Bill had a wonderful sense of humor and loved to laugh. Aunt Helen appeared to be more serious. He seemed to like to "crank her up" or say things that others of us might have thought but not dare say. We really couldn't "read' her reaction to him. We didn't know if she was angry with what he said and he would get it later, or if she just took him with a grain of salt. Whatever the reaction was, it worked for them because they were married 62 years.
The family did a great job of celebrating Aunt Helen's 100th birthday. They reminded us that in the year she was born: the Titanic sunk, Fenway Park opened and New Mexico and Arizona were named the 47th and 48th states. They presented a great slide show of pictures of various stages of her life and included her chihuahuas that she loved. They presented each of us with a little cookbook of her favorite recipes, which had to finally be written down. I will remember when I make them the portion control of an Aunt Helen serving!

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