First, our poster “child” Mike Fremont recently celebrated number 93. For fun, he ran a 5K on the beach – near where he’s spent the last several weeks. Does running on a Florida beach sound like fun? How about if it’s in the middle of March when most folks are still freezing in northerly regions of our country? Heck, yes, it sounds like fun to me. Here is how Mike described the run: “Just a 5K. But it was on one of the world's most beautiful beaches – Vero Beach, Florida. No high rise apartment complexes. Barefoot, I was. At low tide, sunup at 7:30AM.
“From the start you could gauge where the turnaround would be, along a two-mile curve of the beach. I liked the inflatable arch finish line with chip mats as a landmark after turnaround, marked by a woman with colorful scarf, sitting at a table in the sand.
“The race was a small one – 87 runners in all – including a five-year-old boy and an eight-year-old girl. A rubber band held the chip tape to your ankle. My outfit: a tank top, bare-headed, no shoes. We began southwards, against a 10 mph wind, then north. Temperature 70. No one in sight except runners. Peaceful, meditative, secluded.
“How did I feel? Idyllic! Like a young animal: loose-limbed, hips, knees, ankles. It’s hard to express such a feeling of euphoria. A friend of mine won – 50-year-old Brian Masters – a local resident who raced with me in the 70-mile General Clinton Canoe Race in 2009. His time was 20:51. I came in 50th, with a time of 43:46, first in the 80-and up bracket, third in 70-and up.”
Our second LifeNuts story centers on a Cincinnati physician who celebrated his 100th birthday a few weeks ago on March 1. Dr. James Helmsworth, a thoracic surgeon, served in World War II on the Pacific front. Upon returning to the US, he worked with Leland Clark, a chemist, and cardiologist Dr. Samuel Kaplan to perfect the heart-lung machine in 1951. Its development was a key step in the advancement of open-heart surgery.
Dr. Helmsworth performed Cincinnati’s first open-heart surgery in 1952 with the support of Children’s Hospital. It was also one of the first surgeries of its kind in the country. Later, he became a professor in the department of surgery at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.
After “retiring” in his 80s, he began pursuing other interests, which included arts. He learned the craft of woodworking and furniture-making and produced beautiful wooden chairs. In his 90s, he became a Catholic and learned sculpture, producing busts of famous historical figures. At 100, he still drives to church daily and sculpts three days a week.
The LifeNuts key to the vitality of these two men involves one word, “retirement.” The Japanese language has no word for this. The Japanese don’t retire; they move from one activity to another. Hint, hint. And these two LifeNuts follow this precept. Rather than “retire,” they keep going, changing direction – but with a plan and a purpose in life. Old age doesn’t have to mean a life in wheelchairs and assisted living. Just ask these two LifeNuts.