Most People My Age Are Dead

A couple of days ago, Carrie Fisher died from a heart attack at age 60. She was an actress, author, and beloved friend to many. The very next day, her mother, actress Debbie Reynolds was rushed to hospital with breathing problems. She’s 84 now, and the anxiety might have upset her shaky system. At the same time, why did her daughter die a quarter of a century younger? Several times this week, I’ve read of the demise of several people in their sixties. A couple were in their fifties. Why am I still chugging along at 80?

I have not taken the trouble to extend my years. I smoked strong cigarettes for about 35 years, then quit. I never drank whiskey, wine or beer. No special reason; I just don’t enjoy it, the taste or the reaction. It’s possible that I lack a body chemical that emulsifies alcohol. In any case, I’m 80, not an athlete, but I’m active in other ways. I build things and I’m just not sedentary by nature.

I believe my personal, relative longevity is for two reasons. My genes are from solid Eastern European working class stock. My mother lived to 94, which is my target, in spite of the normal aches and pains when rising in the morning. The second reason is that I have never grown up. I handled responsibilities, helped raise two kids who are now in their fifties. I paid mortgages on a couple of rather fine homes for the family, and we enjoyed long, exciting holidays.

Within the context of a family man, and in addition to my ‘day job’, I created and co-produced a children’s television series and a children’s music CD. I am child-like in my excitement and interest in new experiences. While physically able, I raced sports cars; I camped and later lived in the wilderness with no form of communication with the outside world. That was my happiest time

I became an equestrian. I owned a 100 acre ‘hobby farm’ near a ski resort. We kept two Arabian geldings, two Arabian mares, and one magnificent Morgan gelding. I enjoyed dealing with farm needs. I had a couple of pigs for a while as well. It was all just fun for me. Cleaning up after the horses, feeding them, and just being part of the rural community were all fun for me.

I never felt like an officious person, even when creating television series, producing music and so on. I was just having fun, all the time. Facing major meetings with major executives of big international companies was just another game for me. That’s why I believe I’ll live longer than average. Life isn’t serious; it’s just a long game.

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