Samuel A. Kojoglanian, MD, FACC, FSCAI

Esther, in her 90’s, walked on my treadmill more than six minutes, longer than many in their 50’s or 60’s. Her heart was strong and her smile was undeniably stunning. Amazed at her endurance, I asked her about the secrets to longevity.

“What is your greatest joy in life?” I asked. “My granddaughter, she’s precious. When I fainted a couple a weeks ago, she picked me up and carried me. She loves me.” She spoke highly of all her 12 grandkids, but this one particularly because this granddaughter had “a compassionate heart for people.”

“Then what is your greatest sadness,” I asked. “Losing my parents. I lost my dad when I was nine, and my mom when I was 13. How I miss them both! I’d look into my mother’s eyes, and there was so much love.” She stopped to wipe away her tears, “and so much care, oh, she gave me so much comfort.”

“Esther, what’s your secret to long living?” “Well, eating the right food, walking daily, and being happy as much as possible.” “You make it sound like happiness is a choice,” I added. “Oh, yes, it’s a choice, no matter what your circumstance. After I lost my mother, I was forced to move in with other family. I guess I was a nuisance to them although I didn’t bother anyone. The kids, we got along just fine, even up till today, but their parents treated me like a maid. I begin to resent them, but the resentment was killing me. But when I could, I’d slip outside to the porch and read, and tell myself that I’m fortunate to have a roof over my head. So I’d carry on, saying ‘one day, my life will be better.’”

“Where is happiness found?” I asked. “Not in man, not in your surroundings, not in gifts, not in vacations. I find it in contentment and the comfort of the Lord.”

“How did you stay married for over 60 years?” “Don’t hold a grudge and if you can help it, don’t complain. When you give to someone, you give to yourself. When you love someone, you love yourself. Don’t say anything in anger that you’ll regret later.”

“Esther, What should our listeners do to have a healthy, happy and long life like you?” “Oh, anyone can do it! Eat right, exercise, and enjoy your family daily by being together at mealtime at least once a day. Take no one for granted, appreciate those around you, encourage them, and love them.”