Last night Hubby and I attended our friend Ann’s annual cookout. She sets up tables and chairs on the small lawn outside, fires up the gas grill, and guests arrive with a dish to share plus whatever they’d like to have cooked on the grill. People of all ages attend, all friends of Ann’s, and they’re from her hiking clubs or Osher classes (where we met her) or they share a common work background. Last night, our second time, there was a young woman who may or may not have been in her 20’s and there were several who had probably reached the point where the most expensive creams and ointments in the world would be lost in all the wrinkles. I felt right at home.
Ann usually holds this cookout in August, but this year she moved it up to June because she’ll be leaving sometime in August for what will probably be a six-month around the world cruise (on a program called Semester-at-Sea), this after returning in May from a four-month cruise on the same program. When the tour ship docked in Chennai (formerly Madras) for a few days, it was December and, not surprisingly, quite warm for a westerner so she was not impressed with the extreme poverty, dirt and stench she witnessed,. We, Hubby and I, assured her that indeed India was a beautiful country and gave her our opinion about places she should try to visit on her own. Now she’s planning to go to India sometime on her own, and with her own travel agenda. Oh, did I mention that Ann turned 89 years old a couple of weeks ago?
She still hikes with her adventure club, but hasn’t been kayaking since last summer. I said to her, “Ann! You must bottle it! And I’ll buy a bottle.” referring of course to how great it would be if you could bottle whatever aging secrets people like her–whose 89 is like 65 for most people–have. She didn’t launch into a lecture about clean living or only eating healthful foods or even about staying active as a secret to successful aging.
“It’s the genes,” she admitted. “I inherited my father’s good genes.”
I couldn’t help thinking of all the things I seem to have inherited from my family genes. The women is my mother’s family were generally in the 80’s and 90’s when they died; my mother was 10 days shy of her 85th birthday. So the odds were (are?) good that I can look forward to the same, except that now I must factor in the cancer with the lower-case c. It’s too early to tell how that will change things. I say it’s just too bad that–before we’re born–we can’t go to a gene’s store and choose our own for a perfect fit like Ann’s.
It turns out Ann’s father died when he was 98 years old while he was on a cruise. He was about half way into finishing a book he was writing. I didn’t think to ask what he died of. Later on when we were talking about it, Hubby wondered if he’d been shot by a jealous husband.