The number 714 doesnt hold any special meaning unless
you know seven people, all of them older than 100, whose combined
ages add up to that number.
It has been my privilege to photograph the many centenarians
over the years at the Oak Crest DeKalb Area Retirement Center,
and I always get a smile from them.
Each year, a reception is held to honor them, and this
year it was Sunday. I am often amazed at the alertness and pleasantness
of many who have passed the century mark, considering how much
history they have behind them and the memories of so many distressing
world events, and even heartbreaks. They all have one sad memory
in common: The loss of a loved one or entire families of their
generation. But they dont dwell on it and live each day
as it comes.
Gathered for a group photo at their party last Sunday
are from left seated Mary Smith, Gladys Simon and Mary Maxson.
Standing are Don Mosher, left, and Cliff Johnson. (Barry Schrader
photo for ShawMedia)
Along with their portraits on the corridor wall leading to the
health center is a quote from each one. I like their optimism
and want to share a few.
Mary Maxson, 104, said, Abraham Lincoln once said,
Most people are as happy as they make up their mind to
be. Mary Smith, 101, had this quote: My attitude
about aging is take it one day at a time. Gladys Simon,
103, offered this: Its not how old you are, but how
you are old.
Two of the centenarians could not attend because of health
reasons: Donna Marsh, who is 102, and Dorothy Doughty, who was
included among the honorees although she is only 99. She turns
100 in September.
After the party, I had a chance to chat with Cliff Johnson,
whose quote on the wall is Yesterday is past; lets
plan for tomorrow. His attitude remains upbeat despite
the fact that this past year he has gone through a bout with
the flu, then pneumonia and more recently a broken foot, he told
me. For 28 years of his career, he was with an investment firm
doing retirement planning. Asked whether he has any advice for
the young people starting out, he offered this: Put something
away. If you dont do it religiously beginning at a very
young age, you cant retire comfortably. I know a
lot of people who, in retrospect, wish they had done just that,
but waited too late to start.
I particularly enjoyed the quote from Don Mosher, 101,
who quipped: Why complain about being over the hill? Id
rather be over it than under it. He is one of the longest
Oak Crest residents, just passing his 29th year there.
The songs chosen to sing for the occasion were quite fitting
for seniors. Among the titles: When Youre Smiling,
Accentuate the Positive, Every Morning Every
Evening, and a hit from 1968, They Tried to Tell
Us Were Too Young. The seven being feted that day
were only about 50 (the new 30) around that time and probably
would like to change the wording to They try to tell us
were too old