Day 30: If I live to be 97

The phrase has been running daily in my head for the past month: “If I live to be 100…”

Until recently it was simply a hyperbolic expression of the impossible, along the lines of “If I had a nickel for every time that…”

It didn’t seem that living to be 100 could be possible. Or desirable.

But in the last few years I realized how much I do NOT want to die. Living to be 100 feels like a goal.

If I live to be 100, maybe I could read all those books on my list.

If I live to be 100, I would have time to get better at figure painting and complete those paintings in my sketchbook.

If I live to be 100, it’s possible I could finally have memorized the names of all the flowering plants, trees, and mushrooms that surround me.

If I live to be 100, I should be able to find the time for that yoga retreat in India and a trip to the Galapagos.

If I live to be 100, the pennies sculpture will be finished.

Most people I know say they don’t want to live to be 100. And that’s because they assume 100 is an age bereft of vitality.

They have not met my Aunt Bette.

She turned 97 this year and still looks like she is 70-something. In fact she looks better than some of the 50- and 60-somethings I know.

In spite of a slight hearing problem and the usual joint issues, she is doing just fine. She lives alone in a tidy one-bedroom apartment, in a community that keeps her so busy that she is hard to catch by phone.

She is still just as lovely and sweet and funny and alert as I ever remember her being. She has friends and visitors and a devoted daughter, Kay, who looks after those complications which are just too much trouble when you’re 97. (Kay, pictured here, also looks 30 years younger than her chronological age.)

Bette’s life at 97 looks pretty good to me.

If I live to be 100, I hope I am as together as Bette.

Today’s penny is a ’97 in her honor.

1997 Bette

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