They’re Not Your Average Grandparents

You’re only as old as you feel.

I love that phrase when I’m feeling well. When I’m in good health and feeling vigorous, I like to remind myself that I feel younger than my chronological age.

But if I’m under the weather or sore or tired, I’m not so crazy about that saying. I don’t like to think that I’m actually feeling older than my years.

Regardless of how healthy I feel, I know my physical limitations. Fortunately, there are some seniors who belie their age with their incredible feats. We can all be inspired by them.

Let’s take a look at what a few of these gravity-defying grandparents have accomplished in their twilight years.

Taking Her Cue From Bush

In 1997, former President George H.W. Bush parachuted from a plane in Yuma, Arizona at age 72.

Bettie Butler may not have attained as much fame as the 41st president, but this is one area where she out-did him.

Bettie of Marion, Indiana skydived from 13,000 feet for her 95th birthday. About 40 of her family members and closest friends were there to watch.

“When I saw President Bush do it, I thought I could do that, too” Bettie said. “It was wonderful.”

From Air Balloon to Airplane Jump

While thinking about trying to accomplish this incredible feat, Bettie got plenty of encouragement from her grandchildren.

They were aware that she had recently tried jet skiing. And had taken a ride in a hot air balloon at age 80.

“My favorite part was under the canopy because I could see everything and everyone,” Bettie said.

She may have been out of breath after her jump. But she still had enough energy to blow out all 95 candles after her loved ones sang “Happy Birthday” to her.

79-Year-Old Chooses Taekwondo

If you’re ever attacked in a dark alley, you could probably choose a better companion than a 79-year-old grandmother.

That is, unless that woman is Mary Daily Lange. The Des Moines, Iowa grandma will be testing soon for her taekwondo black belt.

“I’m not very big, and I’m old,” Mary said. But that hasn’t stopped her from training in this Korean martial art for the past 14 years.

Before she started, Mary asked her adult children if she should take taekwondo classes or get long-term care insurance. And they ended up choosing Taekwondo.

Seeking Her First-Degree Black Belt

Mary said that taekwondo contributes to her goal of becoming a more well-rounded person.

“I believe you need to be active physically, socially, mentally and spiritually. It also means whatever time you have on Earth, you’re going to be using it well,” she said.

Mary’s goal is to get her first-degree black belt for her 80th birthday. She has one evaluation remaining to reach her goal.

Next time you have to walk down a dark alley, you might want to give Mary a call.

Pearl Harbor Vet Rallies From Injury

The 1941 attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii seems like ancient history to many Americans. In fact, most people alive today were born well after that infamous day in our nation’s history.

Up until several years ago, Ray Chavez was the oldest living Pearl Harbor veteran.

And at 104 years of age, he was still going to the gym two days a week.

But two years previously, Ray had fallen broke his arm while walking. The formerly active man suddenly had no interest in walking. Or doing much of anything else, for that matter.

His daughter, Kathleen, heard about a doctor doing physical therapy with a 101-year-old woman.

Still in the Gym at 104

“I just watched him deteriorate and deteriorate,” Kathleen said. “There were times when I didn’t think he was going to make it through the night.”

Ray took up the rehab challenge. He began twice-weekly workouts at the gym, lifting weights and riding the bike.

At first, he was unable to lift his feet onto the pedals of the stationary bike. But with the help of a personal trainer, he gained confidence, became more mentally alert and started recalling more events from his past.

In 2016, Chavez and Kathleen traveled to Hawaii for a Pearl Harbor 75th anniversary commemoration. A community fundraiser for the popular veteran made the trip possible. Ray lived to be 106.

Age Needn’t Be a Barrier

Yep, you’re only as old as you feel. And just because you’re a grandparent, that doesn’t mean you have to feel old.

With a little thought and plenty of determination, maybe you or one of your older relatives can accomplish something that no one that age has ever done before.

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