Friday, July 6, 2012

Living Long and Loving it.

I love old photographs. I often go through old family photos, print by print, for the sheer joy of reliving the timeless moments captured so long ago. Honestly, it's like a whole other world to me.

Imagine living in a time where this was a normal part of life:

This is my great, great grandpa sitting on his tomato pant setter. The little boy is my grandpa on the left.

Emerald Dale Corfman: An inspirational, mysterious, and profoundly stubborn individual if I ever knew one. He was born in 1914. He is my grandpa. No, not my great grandpa--he is my mother's father. And to my utter incredulity, he lived in a time when they still used tomato pant setters pulled by horses. And that's not all...

Now, picture driving around in a car like the ones parked along the street:

I'm not kidding, I found this beneath my mom's bed in a forgotten photo album. It looks like one of those vintage postcards...

My grandpa just turned 98 this past June. 98! I'm still trying to wrap my head around how old that is. Here is just a few of the historical highlights he lived through:

1. Hiroshima & Nagasaki

2. Walking on the Moon

3. Peal Harbor

4. First Powered Airplane

5. Women Win the Right to Vote

6. JFK Assassinated

7. Nazi Holocaust Exposed

8. World War I 

9. World War II

10. School Segregation Ends

11. U.S. Stock Market Crashes 

So who is this man? He lived through both world wars? WHAT? Yeah. I wish he was your grandpa too. It is true that many people have and will live to be 98, but not like my grandpa. 

He's an incredible man if you ever get the honor of meeting him. The man is so sharp. He's not in a nursing home, slumped over with dribble on his lip. He's happily living independently on his own. 

My grandpa is an inspiration to me. I've decided if I ever live that long (I hope to), I'm still going to be just as much in love with life as he is.

After observing my grandpa, here are some standards I've decided to keep in mind:   

1. Be stubborn.  Grandpa is and always has been a stubborn man. Not in a bad way, he's just not afraid to speak his mind and express his like or dislike for something. Opinions are good. 

2. Everything in moderation. He likes his sweets and treats, but he never over-does it. He says he enjoys one piece of dark chocolate every day. 

3. Read. Reading is one of Grandpa's favorites. He reads like a champion, sometimes more than a book a week! It keeps his mind sharp, and his imagination too! 

4. Don't let age effect you. I don't think Grandpa considers his age much. "I'm too old" Has never crossed his lips. He just does what he wants.

5. Stay active. Grandpa didn't slow down after retirement. He took care of his big farm until he got up into his mid nineties. Now that he sold the farm, he tells us he gets on an exercise bike every morning to keep his legs strong. 

6. Find something you love. He loves to garden. He used to plant all kinds of things from rhubarb to roses. Nurturing something, watching something grow brings him great satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. 

7. Engage life. Learning is a part of Grandpa's lifestyle. He is never too old to try something new. The little boy who used to sit on a tomato plant setter drawn by horses now has his own cell phone and computer. He knows how to text and send emails. Did I also mention he lived through the Great Depression? Yeah, he did. 

8. Love family. Let's be honest, family is so much better than social security. I have seen the absolute joy that Grandpa's children and grandchildren have brought to him over the years. Even though I often claim I could never have kids, I know in the end they are the dearest, most invaluable things in life. 

Grandpa with his three daughters

Some father-daughter love. That's my mom next to him!

A man's age is something impressive, it sums up his life:  maturity reached slowly and against many obstacles, illnesses cured, griefs and despairs overcome, and unconscious risks taken; maturity formed through so many desires, hopes, regrets, forgotten things, loves.  A man's age represents a fine cargo of experiences and memories.  
~Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry 

If you haven't noticed, I'm proud of my grandpa. I'll always be his little granddaughter. :)

Grandpa and I. 1996
**I wrote an essay you can link to in the "My Work"page reflecting my struggle and appreciation concerning my grandpa and the incredibly long life he retains in memories. I encourage you to read it for yourself!

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