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Monday, February 6, 2012

“If You Want to Live a Long Time, Love and Be Loved”

When Leo Abse was 91 years old, he was interviewed by Maureen Cleave, a mere 73. Now deceased, Abse was a Welch lawyer, politician, and gay rights campaigner. For over 30 years he was a Labor Member of Parliament, seeking to liberalize divorce laws and promote private members’ bills.

At 83, he married for the second time, after Marjorie, his first beloved wife, died. His new mate was a gentle woman named Ania Czepulkowska from Poland. She was 50 years his junior, working on her Master’s when the two met over his garden fence.

Looking back on his long life, he saw nothing but good. Born in a benign climate of non-conformity in Wales, he did not attend a university. He felt that it was an advantage not to have been groomed to conform through the educational system. Also, he believed strongly in God and held that God would look after everyone who helped himself. “The art of staying alive is never to repeat yourself. Stay stretched,” he said.

For decades, Abse was writing at his desk at 10:30 every morning. His life experience taught him, “You can continue living productively if you follow the rule of the Roman stoics—carpe diem. Don’t live expectantly, live for the day. Also, if you want to live a long time, love and be loved. I married two women who loved me.”

Laraine Jablon

Laraine Jablon, BA, MA, is a writer specializing in social, health, and spiritual concerns of seniors. She resides in Nesconset, New York, and welcomes your thoughts.