Column: How to live a long time | It’s the Pitts


As a child I was ALWAYS taught to respect my elders but now days it’s getting harder and harder to find one. One of those I respected immensely was Chuck Irwin who just passed away at the age of 94. If his name sounds familiar it’s probably because he was one of the best bit and spur makers in the country. Cowboys loved his silver works of art and horses even more so. Chuck was at a show three days before he died, still taking orders. That night he went out to eat, tripped over a curb and fell. He grimaced, cowboyed up, ate a steak and drank some whiskey before some friends convinced him to go to a hospital. Three days later Chuck checked out of this orbiting nut house and the world is a lesser place.
Someone I’m sure you’ve never heard about was the lovely Lavinia, a friend of a friend who my wife visited religiously two and three times a week for a couple years. I dropped by on holidays and birthdays and one of the two photographs I have in my room is of Lavinia as I fed her chocolate cake on her hundredth birthday.
My favorite old person was my wonderful grandfather who passed away at 94. I think of him every day. From these three wonderful people I learned a few things on how to live a long and meaningful life.
First, stay away from doctors, hospitals and pharmacies. I bet between them, Chuck, Lavinia and grandpa never spent twelve days in a hospital. I also learned that people are a lot like cows, when their teeth start to deteriorate so does their life. At the end, my grandpa’s teeth didn’t even sleep in the same room as he did. My friends also avoided lawyers, stayed out of divorce court and were each married only once until death did them part.
Not one of my friends was a vegetarian or took Ginko biloba. They were raised on meat and milk and ate their share of prunes. They ate slowly and in small amounts. My grandpa could take an hour to eat one enchilada and when I fed Lavinia two helpings of her centennial birthday cake I thought she’d make 101 before we were done. Nor did they let alcohol ruin their lives, although Grandpa did enjoy a thimbleful of blackberry wine occasionally, but I doubt that’s what killed him.
My three friends got up early and I’d be surprised if they ever stayed up late enough to watch the Tonight show. They loved to work, didn’t need a gym membership to stay fit and when their possessions were dispersed their wasn’t one “Thigh Master”, “Bun Burner” or Richard Simmons exercise tape. They lived in older, cluttered homes and didn’t waste too much time doing housework.
They all loved animals. Chuck and Grandpa were especially fond of horses while Lavinia loved cats. (Her only fault, as far as I was concerned.) Lavinia loved to garden and was married to a farmer. Chuck was a farmer and a cowman and my grandpa was raised on a walnut ranch and kept busy weeding two ballparks he built for the kids in our community. That’s another thing, all three were good citizens and highly respected in their SMALL communities. None had a long commute to work... they just opened the back door and there it was.
My friends weren’t stuffy or full of themselves and were comfortable in their own skins. I never once heard any one of them say the “F” word. Not one had a Facebook page, Tweeted or lived their life on “social media”. They didn’t dread the future nor think the younger generation is going to Hell. All three were willing to share their immense knowledge and skills with younger folks. All you had to do was ask. Instead, youngsters wrote them off as silly old senior citizens.
Chuck never spent one day in a resthome while Grandpa and Lavinia had to spend a couple years in a warehouse where old folks are stored. They hated every minute. So if I were you, I wouldn’t spend another minute worrying about things that will never happen. Instead just make sure that when the sun sets tonight you can look back and say it was a day well spent. That’s what Grandpa, Chuck and Lavinia did.
LeePittsbooks.com

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