Learn from this 104-year-old

A 104-year-old woman cannot be expected to beat everyone in Scrabble, to have cataract surgery so she can read again, to be interested in poetry, to pose by a Harley-Davidson motorcycle wearing a black leather jacket, or to receive an animated Winnie the Pooh Tigger doll as a birthday gift.
But that’s exactly what 104-year-old Anna Schmidt did!
Unfortunately, I never knew Anna before her funeral last Wednesday. We went to her funeral out of respect for our friends who had lost a remarkable mother.
When searching for a word to describe her celebrative memorial service, I came up with the word heart-warming. The dictionary defines heart-warming as “inspiring warm or kindly feelings, usually by showing life and human nature in a positive and reassuring light.”
A positive attitude seemed to describe Anna perfectly.
In her life story, she wrote, “My school days were happy years. . . . After grade school, I went two years to Preparatory School, where I, with three other girls, roomed in a dormitory. We studied hard but had lots of fun. . . .
“On weekends, we went home and came back on Monday morning. Several times I was allowed to come back by horseback which I enjoyed immensely. When I was there, I’d turn my pony around, tie the reins to the saddle horn, give him a slap on the back, and he’d run home, The Riderless Horse.”
She began her marriage with the same positive attitude. “We established our home on the farm where Albert was born. . . . Albert loved farming and I loved to be farmer’s wife, helping wherever I could.”
But then tragedy struck. After 37 years of marriage, her husband died suddenly. At age 63, she had to begin a new life. She left the farm, got a job, and built a house, where she lived by herself until age 100.
She did what she had to and faced the future with courage.
Walter Friesen, the chaplain of the retirement home where Anna lived the last four years of life, characterized Anna as having serenity and zest in her life.
He read the serenity prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Anna had the wisdom to know the difference.
She loved reading poetry and watching birds. She gardened, quilted, and played all kinds of games. But her real passion was Scrabble.
She played Scrabble with everyone. Recently, someone asked her whether anyone was able to beat her. Anna replied, “Sometimes I let them win a few games.”
And she always looked to the future. Just the day before she died, Anna had cataract surgery because she wanted to read again.
Anna Schmidt did many things right. No wonder she lived to be 104 healthy and happy.
She had a positive attitude. She was adaptable and content. She was serene, and had a sense of humor and zest for living. And most important, she never looked back—instead, Anna always kept a hopeful eye on the future.
What can you learn from this 104-year-old marvel to improve your life?
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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