the ask@AAR: Who is your role model?

At Thanksgiving this year, my nephew took this picture of my 85 year old mom.

He sent it to me and I immediately thought #lifegoals. And not just because she’s my mom.

Gran, as her 12 grandchildren call her, is just about the happiest busy person I know. She volunteers at the daycare in her retirement community, runs the library there, is in two bridge groups, walks a couple of miles every day, does remote Nia and dance classes, reads voraciously, watches a joyful movie almost every night, and loves a good joke. Widowed just over five years ago, she still sometimes talks to my dad when she’s making dinner–she lives independently–but she’s not super concerned whether or not he can hear her. She’s voted in every election she’s been eligible to and she reads several papers every day. She loves her family above all, still sees her friends from high school every week, and believes strongly that we are all put on this earth to make it a better place.

Like me, she’s led a privileged life although it’s not been one without great sorrow. She’s lost a child, a husband, a brother, both parents, and many many friends. She married a month after graduating from college, had me two years later–we were living in Germany where my father was in the army–moved her family every few years until we finally settled in one place when she was 40. She raised four kids, got two graduate degrees, and has worked as a librarian for over forty years.

When I was young and battling the conviction that the world sucked, my mother’s optimism made me crazy. I thought of her, not without jealousy, as a Pollyanna. She responded to the cruelty and misanthropy of others by choosing not to let it matter. “I love my family,” she’d say. Or, “You can’t know the interior of other people’s lives.” She was and is too busy living to let life’s slings and arrows slow her down. (And, yes, I know many live lives that are intolerable. I am not one of them and thus I am able to have, as a life goal, something other than survival.)

Now, as I ease into old age myself, my mother’s way of living is my #lifegoals. I’m grateful for my relationships and I put them over almost anything else. I try and laugh at life rather than getting irate. I walk every day and thank my body for hanging in there. I hug everyone I can. I say “I love you,” as much as I possibly can. I volunteer, donate, and vote rather than argue and sink into hopelessness. I’m striving to follow the advice of Crash Davis and, like my mom, end each day “ …just happy to be here.” That’s what my mom’s done for the past 85 plus years and, damn, she seems to me to be the most enviable person I know.

How about you? Who is your role model? Why?

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