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THE ART oF AGING GRACEFULLY

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The other night, I happened to attend the Chinese New Year event at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. The food was sumptuous, the décor inviting, the service impeccable, and I rubbed shoulders with celebrities and dignitaries. But the highlight of the evening was having the good fortune to learn an important lesson from a ninety-five-year-old lady.

Unable to enjoy dinner while standing, I asked permission to join two ladies seated at a small table. After proper introductions, I turned my attention to the well-coiffed, elegantly-dressed, and tastefully bejeweled woman on my right. I was fascinated by her joie de vivre, the twinkle of life in her eyes, the way she took her sweet time to savor each morsel, chew on it with a nice set of teeth--certainly no dentures for this ninety-five-year-old--her age was revealed by her daughter. Anyway, Mom sang the praises of the chef, the hotel, each passing guest, the weather, all the time relating humorous anecdotes and uplifting life experienced. Did anything remotely negative ever enter anywhere close to her joyous orbit? The answer is an emphatic yes. As the evening progressed, I found out that macular degeneration had robbed her of most of her eyesight. Yet, the divulged information was not imparted moaning and groaning, but in the context of how, a life-long avid reader, she now appreciated and enjoyed books on tape.

Life, no doubt, doles out its own share of joys and miseries to all of us. The question is who, in the end, is the winner? Those of us who see the glass half-full, or half-empty, if I may use a cliché or two, those eternal hosanna chanters, or the forever thumbs-down nay-sayers?

My invaluable lesson that night was that to age gracefully and healthily, it is essential to view the world with a healthy dose of humor, through rose-hued lenses and, above all, by taking good care of your precious teeth.

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