Dr. Stewart Bitkoff
‘To refuse the gift is to refuse the Giver.’
Over the holidays, one of my maternal aunts visited and we had a conversation about how the ‘older generation’ never seemed to visit doctors as much as this generation. Sometimes I find myself going to doctors 3 and 4 times a week.
My grandfather (Louis) lived to be 104 and both my maternal aunts are now 90 and 98 years old. As we discussed Gramps longevity and why this generation goes to the doctor so often, my aunt offered the following.
* No Bad News. Gramps never wanted to discuss any ‘bad news;’ he spent a minimum of time discussing those things that were wrong in the family and world.
* Simple Pleasures. Gramps was usually in good spirits and enjoyed people, family, special foods, and ‘a shot of vodka’ with the evening meal. He looked forward to simple enjoyments. I often brought him ‘smaltz herring’ from the local appetizing store- which he thoroughly enjoyed.
* No Restaurants. He never ate out in restaurants. Not trusting others, he wanted to know what was in his food and that it was fresh. Clara (his second wife) was an excellent cook; for many years her family owned a restaurant on the lower east side of Manhattan
* Strong Faith. He had a strong commitment to his religion and tried to be a good person. When Clara went into the nursing home, she had dementia, he voluntarily went in with her. Family offered to have Gramps stay with them; he still had all his faculties. He refused saying: ‘upon his death, he could not face his God if he didn’t accompany Clara into the home and help her.’
* Socially Getting Out. Every Saturday Gramps went to the Temple and during the week, along with Clara, visited 2-3 senior centers. Both were welcome at every senior center in the Bronx, NY and had many friends.
* Grateful. Gramps immigrated to the United States when he was 6 years old, along with his older brother who was 10. On the boat from Russia, they were looked after by the other immigrants. Contrasting their poverty in Russia to the material riches of the United States- Gramps was eternally grateful.
* Living Close to Family. Gramps and Clara lived close to family and they visited regularly. He was always available to help out and looked forward to our visits.
* Zest for Life. Gramps by nature was one of those people who thoroughly enjoyed life and he had a joyful energy about him.
* Home Remedies. Even though there were doctors in the family, Gramps believed in trying to treat himself with home remedies: chicken soup, ‘shot of vodka,’ and Vicks Vapor Rub. Rarely were prescribed medications his first line of defense.
Now we know that heredity, and our genes are major factors in health and long life. Gramps had good genes and a lifestyle that helped keep him going. He was active, enjoyed people and life; knowing that good nutrition and caring for others were central
ingredients in living an original life.
Hope there are a few tips that you find useful in this list of qualities for a full-life.
If you liked this see my book, The World of Pond Stories. To purchase your copy go to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/World-Pond-Stories-Stewart-Bitkoff/dp/0991577531 (Paperback $13.99 | Kindle $5.95).
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