I first met Edna when she was only 90. She was bright and cheery with a quick sense of humor. As a volunteer, she often went to the Senior Center to play bridge. As she said, it was her way to help out the "older people." She was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Fairborn. When the Health Ministries committee was making plans for a local health fair, we decided to offer educational presentations in addition to the normal blood pressure and cholesterol screening. Someone suggested that we could have a discussion on aging. The topic resonated with the group who then had to think of a possible presenter.
I suggested Edna Cornelius. Everyone laughed, and then the group went silent. "Why not?" someone asked. Within minutes we had come to the unanimous conclusion that Edna would be fantastic. She seemed to have the secret of good self-care and nurtured a zest for life. Best of all, Edna said "Yes!" She later shared with me her second thoughts, but she did plan her words well. She asked her physician what she should say, and he agreed with the rest of us, "Just tell us what you think about your life and how to live." The church sponsored several classes that day, but Edna's was standing-room only. From what I can remember, this is what she shared:
Rob Smith, Edna's Pastor First Presbyterian Church
Edna's Secrets (things you need to know when you grow older):
Edna rule #1: Make friends across all generations. Stay interested in the lives of younger people. (When all your friends are as old as you are, good news gets scarce. We all need to hear good news!)
Edna rule #2: It's okay to be old-fashioned as long as you understand that other people aren't.
Edna rule #3: If you like having company, be good company. (Who wants to hear complaining all the time?)
Edna rule #4: You're going to need some help doing things so when people offer to help you, say "Yes, thank you!" They'll feel better by helping and you get a friend out of the process. (There's nothing more frustrating than seeing someone who needs help but won't accept it!)
Corollary to rule #4: When invited out - GO!
Edna rule #5: Watch your diet. Eat small meals, but eat on a regular schedule (Edna had diabetes, and controlled it well.)
Someone pointed out how she always dressed so carefully and looked so well-accessorized. The question was: "How do you get around to shop?"
"Shopping takes a lot of time and energy. I really don't have either. It's amazing what you can get through catalogues."
Edna rule #6: Keep sharp and figure out new ways to accomplish the things you want and need. Bridge is great for keeping the brain working. Don't be afraid to ask your friends.