MY FRIEND PHYLLIS...an exemplar in mature adulthood
I met Phyllis, 75 years of age, in the art studio. Phyllis is an avid art lover and painter. In addition, she also plays the piano among other things. Talking about being a positive role model of the aging process, she is it. I am always talking about the many wonderful mature adults who are living longer, growing younger and staying healthy. Phyllis is an exemplar. These cases will document the lives of healthy mature adults who are doing wonderfully well with their lives. I have asked them to share with us their secrets and formula for living a long and healthy life. I begin with my 2 friends that I have painted with on a regular basis, Phyllis and Bob (on a separate page).
Phyllis raised 3 children by herself. Her children are now adults -- a daughter 46, and 2 sons, 44 and 40 years of age. She also has 3 grandchildren, ranging from 2 to 9 years of age. Phyllis indicates that she thought she would never be a grandmother, because her children were "late bloomers." She is so proud of the grandkids, Phylllis daughter graduated from Auburn University and now works for Delta Airlines. Another son has his own lawn and landscaping company and loves to grow and raise Orchids. Her oldest son is a former Marine Corp member and now renovates houses. Phyllis believes he has chosen a career where he will never have to worry about eating, "because he renovates beautiful houses." She says she always instilled in her children to be the best that they could be.
When I asked Phyllis about her life, she says, "I'm a Peyton Place if I told you the whole story of my life." Phyllis learned that she is dyslexic and didn't discover this until she was in mature adulthood a few years ago. She indicates that many people didn't know about these things when she was coming along. "I worked in an environment where I could get away with being dyslexic, because I didn't have to write.
In reflecting on her life, Phyllis indicates that she was always good in art and science. "I would have been quite a different person if I didn't have the condition of dyslexia. But she shrugs it off and quotes her childhood friend, Dixie Hollins, who had a school named after him as saying "everybody has a screw loose,"...."We don't have it all - we always have some kind of handicap or are deprived of something." But, Phyllis adds, "each of us also has a special gift or strength."
According to Phyllis, religion and God has always been a central part of her life and the belief in something greater than herself. Her belief system helped her through the various hurdles in her life. She believed these hurdles were more of a challenge than something negative. "These challenges grew me and gave me a sense of accepting life and making me great -- i.e., taking lemon and making lemonade out of it."
Phyllis says that we all do have depressed moments in our lives -- the moments when we come to a stone in the road. But, if we persevere, we do come to a point in our lives when we can see the horizon or the fruition of life. Things finally begin to materialize. By taking the time to walk through a particular new door in your life, you then discover that this was the answer that you were waiting for -- this is the answer to the problem or particular situation.
Phyllis goes to the art studio every day to paint, to keep her mind occupied. In fact, she states that the opportunity to get out of her house and to go to the art studio daily has actually saved her life and lifted her out of a deep depression. So you can find Phyllis at the studio painting from opening to closing time on a daily basis. I have watched Phyllis do beautiful work in watercolors and gouache. She believes her love of watercolors stems from her background and interests from young adulthood.
Phyllis worked in the retail industry as a Buyer and believes that because she always had to deal with color, shapes and fashions, this has contributed to her ability to be creative with watercolors. In addition, she worked with design engineers at General Motors. Phyllis ended her professional career in computer technology with GTE Data Services before they merged with Verizon.
Phyllis also has traveled to many interesting places over the world and continues to travel. In fact, many of her paintings are from the pictures taken during her travels, such as the one on the left which was taken in Venice. I will be adding more of Phyllis' art on this page in the future.
When I asked Phyllis to discuss her philosophy on life and to provide pointers on how to grow old gracefully, she had some of the following words of wisdom:
"Busy hands and busy (constructive) minds keep you out of mischief. Make a symphony. Take a new approach to life."
"You have to love yourself and accept yourself and then you can love other people. Learn to accept yourself with whatever shortcomings you have."
"Give the best of yourself to your spouse, and your children. You should also want them to have the best."
"We all basically use the same rules - the ten commandments- they are the basic laws of nature."
"We sometimes do find roadblocks and doors closed at points in our lives. It takes attitude to accept these and move on to discover a new world. A positive attitude toward life is important. If you have a negative attitude, know that you can change yourself, but no one can do that but you. You have to change yourself." As the saying goes, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink."
"What you put into life is what you will get out of it."
You must accept death with life. A lot of people don't want to accept death, but tomorrow is not promised, so if you need to care of something, don't procrastinate.
"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift.
At 75 years, Phyllis is delightful and has learned what it truly means to live life to the fullest. She says that she doesn't know how many summers she has left, but she intends to enjoy the rest of her days with inner peace, a positive attitude, painting, traveling, enjoying her kids and grandchildren. Phyllis is my friend and has had a tremendous impact on my life. The world is so lucky to have people like Phyllis and Bob.
I will always cherish our friendship; and Phyllis, I wish for you a very long life! Thank you Phyllis for taking the time to share your words of wisdom with me and my students.
Update-September 5, 2015: Phyllis is now 87 years of age. She has had a fall with broken hip and broken shoulder and now lives in the Fountains Assisted Living Facility in Pasadena, FL. It was a long haul for her in terms of recuperation, but she is walking with a walker and doing quite well. She is still painting, taking Yoga and participating in other activities at the Senior Living community.
Phyllis has met a new beau, Donald who is 99 years of age now. I have had many wonderful visits with my friend, Phyllis over the years; and, this summer with her new beau, Donald. They make a wonderful couple and great companions for each other. I just learned today on September 5, 2015, that Donald whom I visited 2 weeks ago prior to returning to campus and who was doing quite well at that time has been placed in hospice. I am certain that he will emerge once again victoriously and see his 100th birthday! Here is a picture of Phyllis and Donald--a love that she discovered in her late life--finally finding true love.
Phyllis at 87 years and Donald at 99 years.
(Photo credit: Mickey Krause)
Update-September 7, 2015:
Phyllis friend, Donald, passed away today at approximately 1:00pm. I guess it was his time. He was a wonderful soul and 99 years of age. we were hoping that he would see 100 years or more. He was still walking around and very strong. May you find beauty and peace on the other side, Donald, and have many walks in the garden--one of your favorite hobbies; and dance, dance, dance--another one of your favorite things to do even at 99 years of age. Many special prayers and blessings are sent to you for a wonderful transition to the other side.
Phyllis and Donald on her birthday in November 2014
(Photo credit: Mickey Krause)
<-------See her art in the left frame (scroll down). Make sure you visit the page on Bob at the top.
See more of Phyllis Brady's art by visiting her website.