Gertrude Baines was the world’s oldest person at 115. She was born in Shellman, Ga., on April 6, 1894, and died Friday. Her favorite foods were bacon and fried chicken. When asked what the secret was to living a long life, she smiled…
She said “Don’t ask me, ask God”.
I recently read a book I thoroughly enjoyed and searched the web for an interview of the author, now 69 years old. I found one. He said people sometimes wrote to him and he tried to answer when he could. So, I picked up a pen and wrote an “old fashioned” letter to him. He wrote back immediately. One thing he said rings in my memory. He said he wanted to go out quietly. He didn’t want to hang on to life too greedily.
At the same time, I have a friend who is the exact same age as the author I admire. Sh’mal has just moved cross country, gotten a new job and his girlfriend has moved in with him.
I discussed the thought my author friend expressed with my energetic friend. He answered “Maybe he’s done. He’s written a bunch of books, hasn’t he?” I guess we can decide to be done.
I just got back from a cross country trip to Berkeley. One of my dear friends told me her parents had just been in an auto accident and her dad died. Her mom was in intensive care. These vital people had lived the last few years raising goats on a piece of land in New Mexico.
I described the accident to someone and she told me she had just been out to dinner with a friend who raved about her brother, a student in his prime. That very evening, last Friday, he was riding his scooter and was hit by a car. The accident threw him from the scooter into the street but didn’t kill him. The car sped away. Moments later, another car ran over him, killing him. The other car also sped away.
I thought about these accidents on the way to Burning Man as I felt the rear end of our van sway dangerously going up Highway 80 to Black Rock City, NV.
We pulled over and a highway patrolman also stopped. It was a narrow, dangerous road. He put up pilons and got us a good tire wrench. He even had moist towelettes for us to clean our hands.
Every day we are faced with choices and live with situations we can’t change. What do we control? In most, but not all cases, we can choose what we do with our day. We can be alone or with friends. We can eat well and listen to what we’re told about healthy food. And, we can think about a 115 year old woman who likes eating bacon and friend chicken more than anything.
The snow melts on the mountain.
And the water runs down to the spring,
And the spring in a turbulent fountain,
With a song of youth to sing,
Runs down to the riotous river,
And the river flows to the sea,
And the water again
Goes back in rain
To the hills where it used to be.
And I wonder if life’s deep mystery
Isn’t much like the rain and the snow
Returning through all eternity
To the places it used to know.
For life was born on the lofty heights
And flows in a laughing stream,
To the river below
Whose onward flow
Ends in a peaceful dream.
And so at last,
When our life has passed
And the river has run its course,
It again goes back,
O’er the selfsame track,
To the mountain which was its source.
So why prize life
Or why fear death,
Or dread what is to be?
The river ran
Its allotted span
Till it reached the silent sea.
Then the water harked back
To the mountain-top
To begin its course once more.
So we shall run
The course begun
Till we reach the silent shore.
Then revisit earth
In a pure rebirth
From the heart of the virgin snow.
So don’t ask why
We live or die,
Or whither, or when we go,
Or wonder about the mysteries
That only God may know.
— W.R. Hearst
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