My sweet father in law passed away suddenly last week. He was the youngest of 14 children, born when his mom was 46 years old. They are a remarkable family. Incredibly, he still has an older sister, 88, and an older brother, 93, who survive him. Their dad was 98 when he passed away and their mom 103, so it was understandable when Tia (Auntie), the older sister, lamented that my father in law was “taken too young” at 86.
She still lives by herself and although she sits on two fluffy pillows to see over the steering wheel, she drove herself in her new car over two hours to get to the services. I love to be around the elderly, and I especially love her. She taught for 43 years and worked for the district in different capacities for another 20 years after that, only retiring in 2012. These are nuggets of wisdom straight from her mouth.
· On passing several police officers whose belts and clothing strained to contain large overhangs: Why is it men these days have such huge bellies? (She rolls down her passenger side window) Honey, you need to put down the cerveza (beer) and pick up some dumb bells! Those criminals aren’t going to slow down to a walk to let you catch them!
· On a much younger relative who has started wearing dread locks: Such a shame he has done that. Is he trying to be one of those rapping stars? Balding plus those braid things…they just don’t go together. He needs to look for his lost common sense the next time he looks in the mirror.
· On the small, pearl handled pistol in her glove compartment, for which she has a permit: My daddy taught me to shoot when I was 6 years old and I haven’t ever forgotten. Don’t worry, I don’t pull it out too much anymore. It’s just if someone tries to rob me, or if I see a good buck at the ranch.
· On New York City, where her only child, a son, is a physician and hospital administrator: I’d always heard people from New York are unfriendly and rude. But I solved that. I just look them in the eye, smile, and say, “Aren’t you beautiful!” And I nearly always get at least a little smile back. People need someone to tell them that, at least once a day.
· On how active she is: I exercise every day. I even put on some shorts and a cute t-shirt when I do, even though it’s always at home. I turn on the music really loud and I move. That’s the key to anything you want to be successful at, especially living. Keep moving and don’t ever stop.