Monday, May 21, 2007

What is the key to long life?

Today, Katie tells us about a very old person:

John Dahlheimer shook his head when he first saw his newborn daughter Catherine. "That scrawny baby will never make it," he prophesied.

The year was 1894. Today, his daughter -- Catherine Hagel of New Hope -- is 112 years old: the seventh oldest person in the United States, and 14th oldest in the world as of last week, according to the Los Angeles Gerontology Research Group. She has lived in three centuries.

Congratulation to Catherine Hagel. (Really)

But Katie cannot resist turning every column into a Moral Story. That's why she is such a communis rixatrix. The moral is right at the end, there, boys and girls, do you see it? It's the part about attributing the causes for Catherine Hagel's remarkably long life:

What's the secret of Hagel's long and fruitful life? She credits hard work -- a surprising prescription for an era like ours when we increasingly make comfort our goal. But she also took a quiet hour each day to immerse herself in the newspaper and enjoy her favorite section, the funny pages and "Little Orphan Annie."

Finally, Hagel credits her religious faith. As I prepared to leave the nursing home after our interview, she sat with her daughter and granddaughter and together they prayed the guardian angel prayer she had learned as a girl: "Ever this day, be at my side - to light, to guard, to rule and guide."

Let that be a lesson to all of you layabouts out there! Unless you spend decades ankle-deep in cow and pig manure like our farm-wife Catherine, in addition to not amounting to much, you'll probably die young.

Of course, we can't forget the invigorating tonic of religious faith.

Say, that raises a question. How old was that godly man Jerry Falwell when he shuffled off this mortal coil, when he pulled a "dead whale on the beach?"

Seventy-three. Three score and ten and three, as old Jer' might say. Not that old these days. What does that mean, boys and girls?

It calls into question the real value of religious faith in long life, or maybe whether Jerry Falwell was actually as religious as he claimed. One or the other.

Very good, grasshopper.

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