Friday, May 22, 2009

Seymour and Longevity

Seymour and Longevity

Seymour Greene-age 92

For many years, I’ve proclaimed that I’ll live to be 135. I’m not sure where that number came from. I know I’m hoping to live to over 100, and I guess I just selected 135 at random. Being interested in my health, I have studied longevity off and on. I’ve found that the people of Okinawa who adhere to the traditional diet of that island live the longest, healthiest lives. They have a diet rich in soy (especially fermented soy products like miso) and fish. They work well into their 80’s and 90’s, and are said to be content with their lives.

From what I’ve read, the experts in the field of longevity say that to live a long and healthy life you must exercise regularly and try to remain thin. You must drink plenty of clean water, try not to eat too much red meat, eat a lot of vegetables, keep a positive attitude, walk, work, and laugh.

Seymour Greene

One of the few people I’ve known who has lived to an advanced age in good health is Seymour Greene. Seymour will be 93 in July. As long as I’ve known him, I’ve always asked him how he can look and act like a man much younger than his years. Today, however, I got serious with my questions, and he graciously endured my inquisition. What I found is quite amazing.

Seymour said he drinks water only with the three pills he must take each day. He says he doesn’t like water and only drinks it when he has to. So much for that health tip. He said he didn’t eat any vegetables till he was older and married. He always hated them, even though his father was a food packager and brought home vegetables and fruit by the truckload. He says he did eat the fruit. When I asked him if he takes nutritional supplements, he jokingly said, “What are they?” Then, he told me he takes only one supplement a day, a multivitamin. When I asked him the brand, he said very firmly – like the good employee he is – “Kroger brand.” Yes, Seymour still works! He has been an employee of the local Kroger grocery store for many years and works 5 hour shifts 2 days a week.

So what is it that accounts for Seymour’s long life? I asked if his ancestors were genetically predisposed to longevity. “Oh yes, my genes,” he said. “My doctor told me it has to be my genes. I told him I intended to go to the store because I heard they were on sale for $12.99 and I wanted to get two pair.” Obviously, Seymour still has his sense of humor. He still “has it” mentally in every way as far as I can see, and could easily hold his own with most 60-year-olds.

Seymour hails from Indianapolis, Indiana and attended Purdue University. He worked in industrial equipment sales for many years. He was also married for 68 years! His wife passed away recently. He said she used to cook gourmet dinners for him every night, but now he is on his own.

Seymour's shopping cart loaded with healthy food!

I looked into his shopping cart and was impressed to see an array of healthy foods on top of the basket. There were lots of vegetables and whole-grain dark rye bread. I commented to Seymour that he seemed to be eating right even though his wife wasn’t there to cook for him anymore. He said, “Oh, you mean all those things on the top of the cart? Those are my son’s groceries. I picked up a few things for him. My groceries are on the bottom.” I looked at the bottom of the cart to find gooey pies, artificially colored drinks, white bread and bubba burgers.

So, my quest for the answer to longevity goes on with more questions than answers. And as far as Seymour is concerned … it’s gotta be the genes/jeans!

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  1. Seymour is my grandfather. He and my grandmother raised me from ages 6-14. As I have known him for all of my (brief) 27 years, I can offer you some insights into his longevity.
    1) He has one of the most incredible outlooks on life. In fact, one of his favorite expressions is, "Don't worry, be happy." Grandpa is a half-full kinda guy. He could tell you the saddest story you've ever heard, and at the end of it, offer a positive way of viewing it.
    2) He makes fun. Grandpa retired a couple of decades ago, and wasn't satisfied with traditional AARP life. He decided to get a part-time job to fill the hours and for the perks as well (especially the prescription discount). Although it's a position (bagger at a grocery chain) that many would find repetivive and, perhaps, dull, he actually enjoys it. It's not for the mental stimulation of the work, but from the people he meets. He is genuinely interested in his fellow man, and because he cares, I believe it makes people feel appreciated.
    3) He loves life. My grandfather doesn't want to die. This may seem like an inane statement, but many seniors live in a constant state of pain and misery and look upon death as a relief. Seymour has the benefit of good health and a true gusto for living. His life still provides meaning for him and others (me especially!).
    I have learned volumes from growing up with the "Mayor of Kroger". It makes me happy to see that others recognize his value as well:)

  2. Hi Kristy~
    What a wonderful tribute to your grandfather, Seymour. Thank you so very much for responding. Your message gives much insight into what we can all do to not only lengthen our lives but to live fully and happily. Having a sense of humor seems to rank high with those who are living productive, joyful lives. Seymour is someone many people look up to and he is appreciated by all who know him. I almost named the post "Seymour's Bluejeans"
    to go along with his incredible sense of humor. I'll have to start addressing him "Mayor"
    Cheryl-Healing Woman


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