I learned about eternal youth from my dad. He turns 84 this month and is on the move constantly. On his 80th birthday, he walked from Hoboken, N.J., over the George Washington Bridge into New York City. He walked about 15 miles before taking a bus back home. I bet there are many people half his age who couldn’t do that—even if you paid them. It took him eight hours at a leisurely pace, but he made it, smiling and talking to people on the way.
Along with a daily walking routine, he has a talking routine as well. He loves to stroll down to the Hoboken pier that overlooks the magnificent Manhattan skyline and talk to people. Young, old, male, female—it doesn’t make a difference to him. He’ll introduce himself and before you know it, he’s telling one of his amazing tales. He has stories about dancing with all the pretty nurses when he was in the Army, and delivering newspapers to the mother of Hoboken’s favorite son, Frank Sinatra. Before they know it, his listeners are telling him their life story, too. People from all over the world have spent time telling my dad their history.
That’s what keeps his mind young and sharp. He surrounds himself with friendly, engaging people who love life. He takes a daily walk and watches what he eats. He has a sense of purpose and looks forward to each day as if it’s a new adventure, not knowing who he’ll meet next and what exotic places they’ll have been.
So the next time you’re in Hoboken and meet an elderly gentleman who smiles, tips his fedora and says, “I’m the other Frankie … the good-looking one,” that would be my dad.
AARP Bulletin’s "What I Really Know" column comes from our readers. Each month we solicit short personal essays on a selected topic and post some of our favorites in print and online. Juanita McClellan is a reader from Jacksonville, Fla.