How to live to 100

Oct. 19, 2013 @ 05:15 PM

In case you missed it, my story in the Faith section this week included Catherine Ferrell, a 101 year-old member of Mt. Gilead Baptist Church over on Dowd Street. Anyone who makes it to 100 years old and beyond knows something about living. So I asked her if she had any advice about longevity. She told me about her mother.
“I remember as a child seeing my mother every night before we go to bed, get down and pray for her children. I’ve kept that up. Every morning I get up, for the Lord to give me another new day, I’ve got to thank him,” Ferrell said.
Gratitude, that’s right. Part of Ferrell’s long life has been giving thanks for it and for each and every day. Prayer, religion and following her mother’s example.
I don’t think anyone ever thinks they’ll live to be a century old. Those I’ve interviewed express a mix of gratitude and surprise. In February, I met another woman who was newly 101, Jasmine Carter Klopfenstein Bernarda.
She credited her longevity to “a lot of hard work, a nice family, wonderful parents, being a farm girl and still being happy. Eating proper food like collard greens, grits, cornbread and turnips.”
When I met 104 year-old Samie Anderson in 2012, I asked him my usual question. He said he didn’t know, but he feels like he’s 40. I’ll be 40 myself in a couple of years, so I suppose however I feel then is how I’ll feel when I’m 104, right? Fingers crossed.
I do know that if I make it beyond my life expectancy, which is 85, I will be thankful each and every day I get up. [The Social Security Administration website has a life expectancy calculator if you want to try it.] When I first typed that I used the average female life expectancy, which is now 80, but at my current age, I should live to 85. This means I’d better start putting more into my 401k.
Being on the South side of 40 still, and perhaps being named Dawn a destiny to deplore mornings before coffee, my gratitude comes at the end of the day. One of these days I’ll meet someone who lists coffee as a reason for long life. Maybe you? If someone thinks her or his long life is due to coffee (and biscuits) in addition to the biggies – love, family, faith, hard work, etc. – let me know. It’s funny how people admonish against a life of hard work not being worth it, because the elderly folks I’ve met usually mention hard work. Could be that people who lived through the Great Depression just knew hard work. Or maybe that living fully means working hard, loving much, caring deeply and giving it your best. Hard work doesn’t equal long hours on the job. Hard work means putting in the effort in life at what brings home a paycheck and what doesn’t. I think older folks get that.
Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan may be reached at dvaughan@heraldsun.com or 919-419-6563.