MY FRIEND BOB, AN 80 YEAR OLD TRIATHELETE
When I met Bob in the art studio, I thought how intriguing that this gentleman paints in watercolors. I had no idea that Bob had lived a full and rich life and was 80 years of age. What I did know was that he was just delightful to talk to and to be around. I looked forward to his days at the studio. Then, we finally got to talking about his hobbies. Believe it or not, Bob windsurfs, rollerblades, paints in watercolors, reads, and much more. He is very very active. I commented about his windsurfing, because it takes a very strong back to hold the sails up. Bob windsurfs several times a week in the bay of the Gulf, near his home. I told Bob how much I admired his ability to do this, not even knowing at this point that he was 80 years old. Then later I learned of his age and I was just in awe. I immediately asked Bob if he would share his words of wisdom on aging with my students -- not knowing that I had so much more to discover about Bob. I spent a delightful afternoon with Bob in his home and learned even more. It is obvious that Bob loves the water, much like myself, and is so blessed to live on the water. His home is surrounded by the Gulf. You can see the Gulf from every window.
Bob was married for 57 wonderful years. His wife was a wartime bride, according to him. Bob was widowed this past April. He misses his wife dearly, but is coping gracefully as he plans many constructive activities for himself to fill his days. Bob has 3 children: 2 daughters and 1 son. One daughter is a Harvard University Ph.D. in Psychology and Human Development, and now a department head at a major university. Another daughter is a commerical artist; and his son is a graduate of Miami University with an M.B.A.
Bob served in the Air Force and was a Pilot during World War II. Bob was in the 15th AF, 99th Bomb Group, and 346th Squadron. Bob continues to fly planes in his leisure with his flight instructor. In addition, Bob spends much time on his Flight Simulator 2002 on his computer. In fact, Bob took me on a trip around the world. I saw so much from the air. I told him he was the first man to ever take me around the world. It was so much fun! These computer simulated models have you believing that you are really in flight and you can see everything from the cockpit and from the windows in the plane. They have taken real aerial pictures that you would see below; and you have to get the real equipment to handle the flight while operating the program on the computer. So Bob had pedals on the floor and handles on the right and left of him. It was truly an experience. We could also pick the planes we wanted to fly in. The rides were different in each. Way to go Bob! What a wonderful way to stay active with one's ability to fly; and, to keep the mind active. Bob spends several hours a day in flight.
Another exciting thing about Bob is that he loves the water. And, check this out, Bob use to build boats! See one of the pictures at the left of a boat Bob built. He painted it.
When asked about his philosophy on living a long and healthy life, he says for him 2 things are important: that you must keep your mind challenged and have a positive attitude. Bob also shared a verse with me that he says speaks so much about his philosophy of life and being able to succeed -- "with a good attitude you can accomplish a lot." This verse was given to Bob by a high school coach from Indiana.
"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.
Attitude, to me, is more important than education,
than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes,
than what other people think or say or do.
It is more important than appearances, giftedness or skill. It will
make or break a company...a church...a home. The remarkable
thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace
for that day. We can not change our past...we can not change the
fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change
the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on
the one string we have, and that is our attitude...I am
convinced that life is 10% what happens to me
and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you...
We are in charge of our Attitudes."
Bob is a living example of this motto. He is truly a peaceful, pleasant and delightful person to be around. Bob, I am so glad you are my friend and I wish for you a very long, healthy and enjoyable life! Thank you Bob for sharing with us!