100,982,246 Minutes of Life

Posted on August 14, 2017


Last week, an article from the New York Times  started making the rounds of all the social media sites.  It detailed the relationship and subsequent marriage of two people who met at the gym, dated for eight years, and just got married.

She graduated from Brooklyn College and received a master’s degree in biology from Columbia.  She then married a New York cardiologist.   Eventually, they moved to Middletown, NY, where she worked as a biology professor, teaching medical technology and microbiology, at Orange County Community College. She also started the first training program for electron microscopy technicians, while raising four children.

In addition to her medical profession, she became City Council president, and then the first female mayor. She was a Democrat in a Republican jurisdiction.

He is former military who became a successful businessman. He had been married twice before.  His first marriage ended in divorce.  His second marriage lasted until his wife died. His educational accomplishments were not as stellar as hers.  It took him many years to complete his degree.  He finally did, just last year, after driving 80 miles round trip twice a week for nearly two and a half years to get the final 30 credits he needed.

He stays active by going to the gym, chopping down trees, splitting logs and stacking them for firewood.

After the ceremony, the groom went out, got into his car and drove around City Hall, dragging cans behind him.  He then stopped in front of City Hall and picked up his bride. They then drove to the reception.

If you are an alert reader and have suspected that the newlyweds are older, you’d be correct. He is 94.  She is 98.

Old people are often asked the secret of aging.  They tout food (eat healthy/eat whatever you want to), drink (don’t drink alcohol/drink alcohol), and any other number of topics. What most don’t cite is pure, dumb luck, to have been gifted the genes that allow them to avoid serious illness and debilitation.

But beyond the “dumb luck” of genetic make up, and beyond the healthy lifestyle choices that support the dumb luck, there is attitude.

“Age doesn’t mean a damn thing to me or to Gert,” he said. “We don’t see it as a barrier. We still do what we want to do in life.” and

“People always ask what it is that keeps us young,  We live worry-free lives; we do not let anything we cannot control bother us in the least.” 

While it’s easy to say you do what you want, you have to be lucky enough to be physically capable to do so.  And certainly, it’s tough to live a worry-free life when the lives of your children and/or grandchildren have serious challenges. But the nugget here is that in talking about worry-free, he does get closer to the secret.

These two have discovered that what we all have, no matter our age, is this very minute. And this very minute is exactly the same for all of us, no matter who we are or what stage of life we are in.  This minute is the same for the human who is experiencing his first minute, the human who is chasing a friend on the playground, or sitting in a college classroom, or feeding their children, or working, or driving, or shopping, or deciding about retirement options, or taking his latest dose of medication, or planning a wedding at age 98 or age 32.  This minute is what we have. And it will be what we have it be, no more and no less.

To spend the minute fretting about what we lack or what we regret is to lose the minute we have now. To spend the minute fearing the next minute is to lose the minute we have now.  The minute in which a young person plans to hold himself to a higher purpose in life or the young person decides to change the world or combat injustice, is open to everyone.  There is no age threshold or no moratorium on these thoughts and decisions.

Congrats to Gert and Alvin and to all the minutes in their future. May they be as ordinary and as extraordinary as all of the minutes that have passed.