California seniors are in the news this month, defying their age and defying the odds. Caregivers, home care aides and loved ones can all enjoy these stories of California seniors shining like the stars they are.
In 2002, John Holman III competed in his first Ironman competition, and the rough Southern California surf had him questioning his recent life choices. He pushed through the turbulent passage between a cliff and the roiling waves and completed his first Ironman. Over the years, the San Diego man competed in many Ironman triathlons, and this past Saturday in Utah, the now-80-year-old Holman did it again. He’ll be the oldest competitor in the race, but he’ll have ten septuagenarians nipping at his heels, so to speak. Holman is guardedly optimistic about his chances in this race, as the frequent and dramatic elevation changes during the running and biking legs will be a challenge. We don’t know if he’s an Aerosmith fan, but when it comes to Ironman contests, he truly believes it’s about ‘the journey, not the destination,’ so he’s just happy to get the chance to do his best.
Poway resident Pauline McMahon recently celebrated her 100th birthday surrounded by family and friends, reminiscing about a life well-lived. Many centenarians enjoy the same type of fete, and relish sharing personal stories and fond memories with a loving audience. Pauline’s story, though, is a Forrest Gump meets Clarice Starling kind of tale, and it’s a winner! She was born on a West Virginia farm at the end of WWI, the youngest of 11 children, immersed in the structure of family, school and church. But she had her eyes on the big city and an office job, so she focused on typing and shorthand in high school, which paid off when she got a secretarial job at the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover! Once the war started, and the men went overseas, the FBI tapped the secretarial pool to transcribe incoming radio transmissions in Morse code that were then sent elsewhere for decoding. The FBI sent her to San Diego, as well as Boston, Oregon, Montana and San Francisco, during her career. Along the way she met her husband, an FBI agent who eventually moved the family to San Diego, where one of her two sons still lives. Pauline is still a smart cookie, who loves puzzles and staying current on politics. We don’t know whether she still knows Morse code, but we won’t bet against her!
We rarely give much thought to trees, since they are literally part of the landscape. Summer has us looking for trees for shade. Spring has us avoiding trees because of all the icky stuff they’re shedding. Our dogs are even looking for them to catch up on the neighborhood news. Arbor Day, which we celebrated in April, reminds us that trees give us oxygen, clean up polluted air, and even lower our blood pressure! So how cool is it that the two oldest trees in the world are right here in California! The oldest tree on the planet is a 5,062 year-old Great Basin bristlecone pine, located in the White Mountains, which straddle the California and Nevada borders in the Sierra Nevada. And the runner-up, just a couple hundred years younger, is the same kind of tree, and lives in the same area. California is a great place to live, for just about anybody, and even any tree!