Welcome Bloggers to Live to 100 and Beyond

We invite you to celebrate your favorite centenarian by submitting photos and short stories or bios. Please email to adler@ncap100s.org.

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"People have been fascinated by longevity ever since learning of Ponce de Leon’s search in Florida, five centuries ago, for the fountain of youth. In the twentieth century, the search for longevity, and the good health that makes it possible, had been enhanced by discoveries such as antibiotics and other lifesaving drugs, heroic medical interven­tions, which included organ transplants, heart pacemakers and other life-prolonging devices, the emergence of preventive medicine, and a new focus on wellness. On an individual level, people were realizing that, to an ever-increasing extent, they were able to influence life-style factors that could lead to a healthier and longer life—perhaps even a life of 100 years or more." (Opening paragraph from "Centenarians, The Bonus Years," by Lynn Peters Adler, Health Press, Santa Fe, NM, 1995)

Longevity itself is one of the greatest advances of the 20th century, adding approximately 30 years to the average life span. Now, in the 21st century, with the advent of even greater medical advances and the promise shown by stem cell and genetic breakthroughs, the chances for an even greater increase in longevity seems possible.

Active centenarians are our role models. They are helping to redefine aging in new and inspirational ways.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Father’s Day Remembrance

In church today, many people brought pictures of their fathers for remembrance and blessing; they were prominently displayed on a long table covered with a white cloth – there must have been over a hundred framed photographs. I would have taken one of my Dad if I had known about it, but I didn’t read the Bulletin. The woman sitting next to me, about my age, began to talk to me about her father before the service began, and was tearful at times during the service. Coincidentally, this afternoon I received an email from my brother saying he had read an article recently in his local paper encouraging people to talk about their loved ones who are no longer with them on special occasions -- to celebrate their lives and keep their memory alive. We are all about celebrating and acknowledging people’s lives, both past and present, and so I thought I would share a memory of my father, since he did so much for so many years to help me with my projects, events and my book …and took an active interest in the centenarians and in my life’s work.

This did not come naturally to my Dad; what came naturally were sports, specifically basketball and baseball, at which he excelled on an amateur level. During “his day” my father was considered the best baseball player (pitcher) in our town, and he continued playing in town and church leagues well into his thirties. My mother was also a sports enthusiast and was proud of her husband’s prowess and popularity. So, of course, when expecting their first child, they expected a son – wanted a son to take after his father -- and couldn’t imagine their wish not being granted; there were three boys and one girl in my father and mother’s families.

Thus, my father arrived at the hospital (this was in the days when husbands didn’t hang around maternity floors, but showed up later) with a baseball glove for his newborn child – only to be told, “It’s a girl!” Stuck with me, he made the best of it and encouraged me to play in all sports, talked about sports, read from the Sports page of the daily newspaper, etc. In exchange, he was required to sit through numerous school and regional concerts (having to listen to me learning and practicing the violin couldn’t have been pleasant either), chorus recitals and school plays. Eventually, he had twin sons but the wait was long until they “came of age,” about six.

In junior high I made the school baseball team (I think as a courtesy to my Dad). He showed up at our first game early one evening, with my brothers. I was put in the starting lineup, playing left field. Fortunately, no balls came my way during the top of the first inning. When it was our turn at bat, I miraculously got a base hit and ran as fast as I could to first base; I was a fast runner, I thought, pleased with my performance. My father was there at the base line yelling, “take second…” I held up at first and yelled back, “I can’t make it.” To which he replied, SLIDE! I stopped, turned to look at him and said, “Slide? I’m not going to slide,” and stayed firmly on the first base bag. The next batter got a base hit and the next, and I was on third, about to score our first run. I was so pleased with myself. But when I looked out at the spectators (a handful of parents) I saw my Dad quite far off in the distance, walking away with my brothers. Puzzled, I concluded that they must have been tired or for some reason the twins needed to be taken home.

When I got home, I excitedly ran into the kitchen where my father was sitting reading the Sports page of the newspaper. “Why did you leave?” I asked, “We won.” Without lowering the paper he said in a disgusted tone, “Aw, you run like a girl.” Incensed, I raised the baseball glove above my head and slammed it onto the kitchen floor. “I AM a girl!” I shouted (in rare and risky defiance), “and you can just wait until your sons are old enough to play baseball – I QUIT.” I ran to my bedroom upstairs, leaving the glove on the kitchen floor.

The next year, not only did he start my brothers in Little League, he became the coach. Fortunately, one of the twins had inherited his natural athletic ability and, like my Dad, became a pitcher. His brother struggled with the game (but later was good at basketball). The first game I attended, happy to be on the sideline, he put one brother on the mound and the other at second base; early in the game he was hit in the face by the ball. My father immediately called a time out and began running to his injured son, who was running in from second. Reaching him mid infield, my father looked at the injury, reached in his back pocket, took out his white handkerchief, roughly wiped the blood (and tears) from my little brother’s face, turned him around and gave him a shove toward second, yelling after him “next time, hold your glove up.” That was my Dad! Frederick William Peters, and I miss him.

Pictured at left: My father and brothers at Yankee Stadium, mid-60s. It was “bat day” and each kid received a small bat. Brian, on the left, had taken his Dad’s bat to be autographed. I remember that we were almost the last fans to leave that day because we had to wait so long for the autograph, but my brother is obviously proud of his accomplishment! It’s nice to have the happy memory.

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ABC Barbara Walters Special - Aging & Longevity

The ABC Barbara Walters Special on longevity aired in April of 2008. I was asked two years ago to participate in this project and it was a wonderful, exhilarating experience. It was both an honor and a privilege to work with Ms. Walters and the talented and caring team of professionals on her staff. I invite you to read the "Behind the Scene" story on our website. Here's the link: http://www.adlercentenarians.org/ABCWalters_special.htm
Posts & comments about the special and the participating centenarians follow. Please scroll down.