Mother proves that you ‘got to keep moving’ |

Mother proves that you ‘got to keep moving’

Daily Staff Writer

Dr. Paul Hamilton was a great mentor of mine who often proclaimed, “I want to die young and put it off as long as possible.”


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Dr. Paul Hamilton was a great mentor of mine who often proclaimed, “I want to die young and put it off as long as possible.”

His words came back to me last week while visiting my dear old mum in Southern California. Never having met Dr. Hamilton, she nevertheless is living out his credo.

At 85 she continues to maintain a lovely home, a beautiful garden and a 1983 Oldsmobile for cruising the L.A. freeways. Lest you think I am mad for allowing my mother to venture forth across the asphalt arteries of Angel Town, please know two things: 1) I’ve never ordered my mother around and I’m certainly not starting now, and 2) she always stays in the right-hand lane. It doesn’t matter if the 4th Battalion is moving its tanks and Humvees at 15 mph from Camp Pendleton to Fort Ord, my mother won’t budge out of that lane.

It is with not a small amount of thankfulness that I celebrate the fact that her church is one exit away from her home and her daily drive to the gym can be covered on side streets.

That’s right, the gym. She works out on the machines under the guidance of her personal trainer. Last week she told me she felt her biceps were getting buff.

She has always been a walker. Four to 5 miles each day with stops to greet the neighbors or offer a little unsolicited advice. Whenever I walk with her, I have to keep pulling on the back of her shirt to slow her down.

“Where are you racing to?” I ask her while giving her another yank backwards. “Got to keep moving!” she shouts back at me.

That’s her philosophy of life, by the way, “Got to keep moving!” It’s kept her in good stead midway into her ninth decade and left a legacy of a life worth emulating.

She didn’t retire until a few years ago. She was happy getting up and going to work at Saks Fifth Avenue’s sportswear department. For several years she was the number one salesperson in the entire store even though she only worked part time. I suspect it had something to do with her commitment to movement. If it was slow in sportswear, she’d be off selling tank tops to teenagers or suitcases to salesmen.

We all thought things would slow down once she retired, but within weeks she was volunteering at the local fairgrounds, leading tours for inner-city school children around the farmyard.

Her activities at church take up a good deal of her limited free time. She especially likes volunteering with the group, “Go and Do Likewise,” which spends most Saturdays helping out little old ladies with things around the house. I don’t think she sees the irony of her assisting folk considerably younger than she.

She’s up on all the news, displaying a demonstrative disagreement with the current political climate. She talks back to the television from time to time, especially when the president pops up. Although it goes against her Democratic disposition, she seems to have a growing admiration for her Republican governor. I just hope he watches his step. I still remember what she can do when she gets angry.

Which isn’t very often anymore. Time has a way of putting things into perspective … just don’t ask her about Big Oil or the California Angels.

Not long ago, The New York Times ran a feature on men and women who have lived particularly lengthy lives. Over and over again, the evidence points toward active minds and muscles as the key to longevity. My mom is certainly a testament to that truth.

I just hope I can keep up.

Rich Mayfield writes a Saturday column for the Summit Daily News. He can be reached at

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