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Humankind- Live Well…. (Happy New Year)

Watch your p’s and q’s, a penny saved is a penny earned, eat right and exercise regularly, don’t forget your vegetables, sit up straight, and be kind to your elders. Sound familiar? Well, you may still hear a few of these same sayings kicking around in your head like I do. These were some of the constant verbal reminders that my parents included in my “life list” of mottos and phrases to live by.

However, looking back on them, I think the idea to “live well”, part of the greater idea of “live well within your means” was much, much further down on that reminder list. But the idea to “live well” within our means may just be the idea that rises to the top of my list and be the “by-line for 2009”.

When I was about 9 my father had his 40th birthday. Boy did I think he was old! We were living in a small suburb outside Columbus back then. I remember going to bed after my Dad’s birthday party that night wondering where I would be when I was 40 (married with two teenage boys living in Vermont), let alone 50 (widowed, remarried and living in Put-in-Bay). I dreamed of what the year 2000 would be like and all the amazing fantastic things we would see like flying cars, robots, and telephones that allowed us to see the person we were talking to….if we could just make it past the Orwellian year of 1984!

My parents were both depression era children with only high school educations. My Dad worked very long hours to provide for our family; my mom often had a part time job as well. We lived well, but quite frugally. My Dad saved everything, from random pieces of hard wood to broken blenders and pieces of old radios down in our basement. He could usually find a part to fix just about anything. My parent’s creative approach to living always included active community involvement of some sort. The combination of hard work, frugality, and community sharing allowed us to live pretty well I now realize.

In the fall of 1968 (the year Rex Kern took the Buckeyes all the way to the national championship) I started to receive an allowance of 50 cents a week for chores I did around the house from my parents to teach me about the value of money. I had to keep my “allowance book” up to date each week proving, usually to mother, what I spent or saved every week. If I did odd jobs or bought candy I had to write it down. I couldn’t get my next week’s allowance unless I “balanced” my book. Sometimes I would announce that I was saving my money for something my parents regarded as extravagant, like a new football helmet, instead of being happy with the old geeky one I had gotten as a hand me down. My dad would say that I had “champagne tastes and a beer pocket book”.

That fall all wrapped up in football mania I played “Hackett Ball” a low level organized version of football run by our elementary school gym teacher after school. Mr. Hackett’s version of football had only two requirements; show up with a positive attitude and some sort of helmet. It was great fun and part of a three-pronged lesson for life I now understand. Watch your pennies, exercise regularly, and give back to the community (what Mr. Hackett did all his working life, tirelessly). As I get older, I think these ideas, my parents’ modeling, encompass the idea of “living well”. We may not always succeed in every area but we can try.

Just look around and you will see members of our community elders doing just that. You’ll see them walking, working on the ferry, doing community service and fundraising. Our community prosperity depends on the wise fiscal responsibility and stewardship of the older generation of our island families. Successful aging, the essence of living well, includes many folks we know, love and see out and about still very active in our community. They are civic leaders, doing important jobs, making a difference all year long.

In 2008 we said goodbye to some folks here we loved who lived well and I’m sure they followed many of these mottos to the end. As the torch is passed on to us, with all the challenges that life puts in front of us, I think we need to remember to “live well” every day. So in 2009 as I take time to recognize these amazing elders in our community, role models all of them, it reminds me that l need to work a little harder, walk a little more, spend a little less, give back to my community more often, and make an effort to “live well” within my means every day.


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