Allene – 100 years, 9 months of ageBy many accounts, I shouldn’t be here.  I was born at home in 1911, a premature baby, weighing only 2 pounds.  My chances of survival were not good, however, my father placed me in a cotton-lined box, placed me on the woodstove oven door to keep me warm, and fed me with an eye dropper.  I didn’t even have a name for several months.

I credit genetics for my longevity.  My paternal family (Mitchell) took great pride in living long lives.  In 1876, my great-great grandfather, James Mitchell, a Methodist minister, was the oldest living resident  of Polk County,Missouri.  At age 87, he was still preaching with a voice like a “roaring lion.”  I have a strong immune system, probably because it has been exercised by having all the childhood diseases, including small pox and scarlet fever.  I never contracted influenza despite being exposed during all the epidemics that have occurred during my lifetime.  My visits to a doctor have been for a tonsilectomy, appendectomy, and childbirth.   I am a breast cancer survivor, having discovered a pea-sized lump myself 30 years ago.  Other than these occurrences, my doctor visits have been for routine physicals every ten years until a few years ago when I decided they weren’t needed.  I take no prescription drugs.  

I played basketball in high school and have always maintained an active life.  I retired from a banking career at age 62, then became bored and got a job as a clerk in a hospital, working until age 67.  I didn’t have a driver’s license until I was in my 50’s.  We lived in a small town so I could walk to work, etc.  Walking has always been my primary source of exercise: walking my dog or strolling around the yard.  Until a few years ago, I also had a flower and vegetable garden.  I have a pulley attached to the wall to exercise my arms and “walk” up and down the wall with my fingers to keep them flexible so I can knit and crochet. I maintain a healthy diet.  I have always been small, so weight gain has never been a problem.  You can stay fit at any age. 

LuAnn – 74 years, 6 months of age I had a congenitally dislocated hip that wasn’t discovered until I was ten years old.  It was surgically corrected and I also had some experimental surgery in a futile attempt to make my legs the same length.  As the result of the short leg, I have scoliosis. I was diagnosed with arthritis at age 17.  It was predicted that I would be wheelchair bound by the time I was 30 years of age.  I credit my “Drill Sergeant” Mother that I am still not in a wheelchair.  Mother always insisted that I get up and walk and never allowed for the possibility that I was handicapped.  She psyched me out by saying, “Get out of that bed, wash your face, brush your teeth, and comb your hair and you will feel better!”  I guess it worked.  I played sports in school, raised three active children (they’re only 28 months apart in age) and had a twenty-two year career.  

In my 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. I bowled in two leagues and went dancing several nights a week.  To say I’ve been physically active is an understatement when you consider my “birth” hip wore out when I was 43, resulting in my first hip replacement.  I wore that one out as well, and am now 13 years into the life span of my second hip replacement.  

I am a “clone” of my Mother.  We could win a Mother/Daughter “look-alike” contest! Same features, same stature, same genetics, have good metabolism and immune systems. We listen to our bodies, feed our cravings, take our blood pressure routinely, and watch our diet, never eating late in the evening..  My Dad owned a grocery store and our house was attached to the back, so I literally grew up in a grocery store.  Sweets were never a treat as we had all anyone could want right at home.  I guess that’s why we just weren’t that interested in candy, pop, or ice cream.  We preferred the fruits and dill pickles. 

Other than my eleven surgeries, my visits to the doctor are semi-annual physicals.  My family physician told me that if all his patients were as healthy as I am, he would go out of business.  I take Armour Thyroid, and have routine lab work twice a year.  I control my arthritis with meditation and exercise.  I do a regimen of prescribed exercises for my back every morning before I get out of bed.  I do all my housecleaning, including window washing, carpet shampooing, etc. and grocery shopping.  Several years ago,  I discovered “Sit and Be Fit” on PBS and it’s amazing the exercises one can do while sitting in a chair. 

Exercising one’s mind is also important.  I work crossword puzzles and Sudoku daily, am an avid reader, and genealogy researcher.  I have written 15 genealogy books.  I also quilt.  After all, if you don’t use it, you will lose it, whether it’s your muscles or your mind.