My mother was God’s perfect embodiment of unconditional love in my life; and my father will always be my greatest (mortal) hero. I miss them both, terribly. Today would have been my mother’s 88th birthday. Unfortunately, she died many years ago, less than 6 months before she would have turned 64. Two weeks from today will be the 24th anniversary of my father’s death – at age 64.
64. That’s Diana Nyad’s age. Diana Nyad is the amazing marathon swimmer who, just a couple of hours before I posted this, completed a 2-day swim from Cuba to Key West, Florida – a distance of 110 miles. It was her fifth attempt; the first was 35 years ago. She is the first person ever to make that swim without a shark cage to protect her. She did this at age 64.
I always knew that my parents were still very young when they died – far too young, in my humble opinion. Now I, at age 51, have been thinking more than ever that there’s NO WAY I’m going to be ready to pack it in just 13 years from now. I’m still a young man!!
Then along comes “Dazzling Diana” (just one of several nicknames I’ve thought of for her, along with “Dynamic Diana,” “Daring Diana” and “Death-Defying Diana” – take your pick). Ms. Nyad confirms exactly what I’ve been thinking. One should be – and I intend to be – still alive, healthy, and actively engaged in vigorous athletic pursuits at age 64! Not dying. Definitely not dying.
I know, “We know neither the day nor the hour…” And that’s a good thing. (Imagine if you knew exactly when and how you were going to die. Yikes!!) But in the meantime, Diana inspires me to live life to its fullest, and never stop “doing it to the max.” Not even when you’re just one year shy of becoming a “senior citizen.”
Let’s face it, there are many things we can do – and others we can avoid doing – that might give us a better chance to live longer, healthier, more productive lives. Healthy diet. No drugs. Low-to-moderate alcohol intake (or none, if you’re like me). Plenty of exercise (I could be wrong, but I suspect Diana’s got that one covered). Don’t keep loaded guns in your home. There are others. But ultimately, we simply do not have control over our own longevity or mortality. “Doggedly-Determined Diana” shows us that we certainly have control over what we aspire to, and what we accomplish, while we are alive. That makes her an incredible inspiration to all of us.
My 24- and 20-year-old kids like to tease me about being “old.” When they do, I always chuckle at them. Diana allows me to turn it into a full-blown, LOL “belly laugh” – at their lack of perspective, their woeful inability to comprehend how ridiculous it is to say that a 51-year-old is “old.” I haven’t even begun to touch the “O” in “old!” Apparently, neither has Diana Nyad.