THE BLOG

Over 90: Alive and Kicking

09/18/2012 05:33 pm ET | Updated Nov 18, 2012

About a month ago, I wrote what I hope will be the first in a series of articles for Huffington Post highlighting women and men over the age of 90 as a benchmark for us to attain as we too celebrate more and more candles on our cake.

Researching this topic was an amazing trip for me. My own mother lived to be over 100 and her father lived to 97. Quite the genes for longevity. I've always thought that they were both exceptional; it turns out they were not. The stories about men and women over 90 are everywhere and they're inspiring in the broadest sense.

When my own mom was in her late 90's, a respite worker came to visit her. The kind young woman asked my mom if she wanted to talk about dying. When my mother replied no, the young woman asked, "Doesn't it worry you when you think about dying?" My mother replied, "No, I just don't think about it." This from a woman who also said, "I hurt so much today that I baked a batch of cookies."

My mom was no wuss.

One day, my mother, who lived on the ground floor of her apartment building, woke up from her afternoon nap to find a burglar searching her bedroom as she lay napping. My mother scarred him away by using that tone that all mothers have, "What are you doing? You get out of here!" When she told her story to the local police they were aghast at her audacity and returned to visit her and hear her stories many times. I suspect the burglar had his own story to tell.

When my father first discovered that he had rheumatoid arthritis, my mother stepped up to fill his role in the family hierarchy, along with her own as wife and mother. In spite of the times when she made me nuts, she was my inspiration. I continue to strive to emulate my mother in many ways, particularly in being a capable woman myself.

For example, there's a documentary called Over 90 that's about some extraordinary people over 90. And none of these people are sitting in their rocking chairs. My thinking is that rocking away your day on your porch is a step very close to surrender. You'll see no surrender from the people in this documentary.

Our world is filled with women and men who are over 90 years old and still inspiring the rest of us. Very few of us will run a marathon when we're over 90, but many of us will cheer our grandchildren on with our stories and our wisdom when we're over 90.