Making it to 70 and living to tell the tale
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Last night we celebrated my Dad's birthday a few days early. My dad, I am proud to say, is a year shy of 70, and is still going strong. We all know people who are considerably younger and not doing well... my Dad is proof that one can still grow old gracefully and live to tell about it.
First a bit about my Dad: he works. A lot. A couple years ago he was forced to retire in order to not lose his retirement benefits. At that time he was only working one full time job and two part time teaching jobs. Today he is down to one full time teaching gig and does research work on the side. He's a rocket scientist (yes, really) who happens to be good at teaching as well as managing aeronautic projects and consulting companies like our government. He recently moved to Austin to prevent a 3 hour drive to his teaching job, which was shortened only slightly when he could fly.
No Dad is not Superman or Peter Pan. My dad has his private pilot's license and keeps a teaching certification so that he can legally teach others about his favorite hobby. His other hobby, old cars, finds him under his classic VW Bug, Opel GT, or 1920's era Ford truck on weekends. He also enjoys hiking and travel. He climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in his mid-sixties, and can cream just about anyone on a hiking trail.
So when his two kids (my brother and I) were going to be in town before Christmas, we decided to have a little dinner party. He invited his TA and another colleague over, and my brother and I threw together a dinner of his choice. We perused the aisles of Central Market with him while he picked out some of his favorite foods.
What is a low key birthday dinner like for a guy reaching the end of his sixth decade? We started with baguette slices dipped in herbed olive oil. My brother put together a large salad and I made my wilted spinach dish. We steamed a bit of broccoli while we attempted to shove everyone out of the kitchen as my brother and I created the main entrees in tandem: seared scallops and lamb steak. During dinner we all drank goodly amounts of wine and casually conversed about everything from modern musicians eking out a living to cultural differences observed by the TA (who lives in Guatemala) and my brother (who live in Costa Rica.) Dessert had to be stretched out as we were short but everyone enjoyed a few bites of creme brulee and pear tartlets, finished with a small glass of burbon and rum for each person.
I realized that most Americans would not consider a dinner consisting of all healthy food to be a "treat," which is one thing that makes my Dad (and trickles down to his kids) so darn healthy. He eats almost no fried food and rarely enjoys a dessert unless it's fruit. He loves his wine but almost never overdoes it (last night was an exception.) He looks forward to fresh fruits in season and usually follows a low fat vegetarian diet - because he likes it that way.
All in all last night's celebration was testament that a healthy lifestyle will take you far. By following a "Mediterranean diet" all his life, staying active, loving work, and enjoying life in general, Dad is now enjoying his golden years with no health problems. None. Happily he instilled these values in my brother and I.