The Secret to Long Life

This is another post in an occasional series from my dear Aunt Doris, who passed away in 2015 at the age of 94.


Aunt Doris

Being 91-years-old, people often ask me: “What’s your secret for getting there?”

My son says it’s fish, tea and vinegar. Maybe; I really don’t know. However, I do have a few do’s and don’ts that can’t hurt if you choose to follow them:

Eat a good breakfast. I always start the day with a good breakfast. My favorite is an egg with toast, hash browns, fried tomatoes and one piece of bacon. Oh … and of course, tea!

Don’t be afraid of fish. I also eat a lot of fish. All kinds: talapia, sole, oysters, eels. Yes, eels; I love ’em.

Eat all your veggies. I enjoy all kinds of veggies. I especially love spinach, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. I’m also a big fan of potatoes and salad.

Don’t be afraid to splurge on other foods. I do like the occasional filet Mignon, and I love chocolate. Yes, I have a sweet tooth! Give me a Cadbury’s, a Kit Kat, or a box of See’s dark chocolate raspberry creams and I’m in seventh heaven!

Don’t smoke. I used to smoke, but I stopped 27 years ago. One evening, not long after having eye surgery, I was smoking only to find some smoke going in my one “good” eye. I stopped cold turkey right there! The next day I said to my then-four-year-old grandson, “Hey, Mark! I stopped smoking!” That’s when he said, “Praise the Lord! We’ve been praying you would!” Yes, there are healthier alternatives to smoking. Even so, I could never go back to smoking of any kind after that.

Never lose your sense of wonder. I can look at a sunset, a perfectly-shaped tree, a rose, or a new baby and it reminds me that God’s in heaven and all’s well with the world. And when I hear Chris Botti play “Summertime” on his trumpet I feel good all day long!

Encourage others. One “attaboy!” trumps 50 “told ya sos!” every time — and does more good too!

Get a hobby. Since I had my stroke over two years ago I’ve had to stop some of my hobbies; my right side is weak and it’s hard to paint stones or thread a needle. But I can still knit up a storm! I make hats of all sizes — for preemies to adults! A friend calls them “Lovey’s Lids.”

Exercise your brain. After my stroke I was happy to find I could still answer the questions on Jeopardy and solve the puzzles on Wheel of Fortune.

Keep a positive attitude. I now get around on a walker named … “Johnny.” (Of course.) I also keep a small pink horn attached to it; I get smiles instead of looks of pity when I honk it. Remember the old song “Accentuate the Positive”? Eliminate the negatives and — for heaven’s sake — LAUGH! Oh, don’t get me wrong. I do have my “Why Me?” days, and I’ll yell and rant like a banshee at times. But then I get it out of my system and I start laughing again.

All in all, I suppose luck has also played a part — but the good news is, if you’re careful, don’t do anything foolish and strive to always keep going, you’ll probably get there too.

Love you,

Aunt Doris


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    The “eat your veggies” thing is pretty key. My grandmother always had me eat greens of all types, lots of them. Doris’s attitude has a lot to do with it, I’m sure. Like the fish suggestion as well. I don’t eat a ton of fish, but I have a protein shake most mornings for breakfast with a fish oil capsule or two.

    Love the Aunt Doris articles, Len. Keep ’em coming!

    • 3

      Len Penzo says

      I love ’em too, Joe. I’m going to keep posting them as long as Aunt Doris is kind enough to keep writing them for me!

    • 5

      Kelly A. says

      OH! I just got that, thank you! Missing that joke makes me question my sense of humor. LOL Doris!

  2. 7

    Kelly A. says

    Thank you, Aunt Doris for continuing to share your wisdom with us! :) I have had a number of relatives live to be over 100 (106 was the oldest), and they’ve all remained in good mental and physical health right up to the end. In addition to Doris’s sage advice, they also kept active. Again, both physically and mentally. They were always learning, always interested in current events, the latest archaeological or scientific discovery, etc. They also walked as much as they could. Nowadays it seems everyone will hop into the car just to go to the store a block away to pick up a few things.

    My personal opinion of their longevity is that they followed the rule: “If it can go bad, it’s good for you.” Meaning, fresh vegetables, non-processed foods, not a bunch of canned and frozen goods laden with salt and preservatives. Even frying things in bacon grease and slathering butter on everything didn’t seem to hurt them one bit! And that one shot of really good Scotch before bedtime might have helped too, lol.

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    Great advice; then again I always like Aunt Doris’s posts. BTW, thanks for making me see that I got the smoking thing all wrong – I smoked till I was 30, gave up and am looking forward to being 70 and starting again (thinking it could not kill me prematurely). Probably should have smoked till I am in my 60s and…or well…


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