Q. Another special gal is Dolly Parton, your occasional duet partner.
A. Yeah, she's my buddy. When I call her, she comes. And when she calls, I run! Dolly and I have this incredible relationship. The minute she marched into the studio for "Islands in the Stream," she brought new life to it. I love her.
Q. Has anything pleasantly surprised you about growing older?
A. I'm a lot more patient than I used to be. I have 8-year-old twin boys. They're such a great gift — and they don't see my age. Jordan said, "C'mon, Dad, go run with me." And I said, "Son, I can't run. You saw my knee surgery." He said, "C'mon, just try it." They really want me to do things. They'll walk by and say, "Dad, you've got to get up and get exercise." It's really cool.
Q. You wrote that your grandfather told you, "Son, youth only happens to you one time; so if you should miss it when you're young, you can still have it when you're old." Meaning?
A. He was a quiet old soul, but he would say, "Youth is a frame of mind. If you get out there and enjoy it, you can have it at any time of your life."
Q. Was he right?
A. Well, I'm a fun-loving person, but I'm not real overt. My mom said, "Son, you've gotta be happy where you are. If you're not happy where you are, you'll never be really happy. Never be content to be there, but be happy where you are." I thought that was great advice.
Q. Your mother had a strong set of values. But even at 70 she was not above climbing a stranger's fence to fish in his lake.
A. We were so afraid she was going to get shot! Especially since she wore this orange jumpsuit — looked like a convict. But she had no fear. She said, "Why would they care if I get in there and fish?" You have to love that spirit.
Alanna Nash is a New York Times best-selling ghostwriter and author. Her latest book is Baby, Let's Play House: Elvis Presley and the Women Who Loved Him.
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