John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Do Not Go Gently…

1460258_10153511808290515_152843007_nDo not go gently into your twilight years….

Very hard to see pic but a special one to me of my father, grandfather and Colonel Sanders at the ribbon cutting ceremony launching the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging at UK back in 1979 –and that is going stronger than ever.

I used to listen to my grandfather in his 80s as he would walk 18 to 36 holes of golf in a day (while I drove in a golf cart at age 17) declare that aging wasn’t a natural process but a form of disease that we could and should combat. Colonel Harlan Sanders who was virtually unknown outside his hometown of Corbin in his 50s but by the time he was 70 was one of the three most recognizable faces in the world, believed in staving off the effects of aging too.

The two men convinced my father to start a foundation to do something about their beliefs that would be backed by science and help thousands –maybe even millions—enjoy richer lives in their later years.

jyb_musingsI was proud to receive this picture tonight on my father’s behalf and was reminded how fully my grandfather lived his life all the way to the end. Running unsuccessfully for Congress at 81. Handling front page criminal trials at the age of 84 and never saying never to anything.

Sue Wylie, an esteemed public affairs talk show host, interviewed my grandfather when he was in his early 80s and reflecting upon all of his losses when we ran for public office (he lost about 3 times more races than he won), she asked him,

“Well, Mr Brown…..Do you sometimes feel like a failure?”

My grandfather’s voice cracked in a generous and kindly manner as he began to smile and said while still keeping a steady gaze on his host,

“No honey. Look….I adhere to the belief that they only time you fail in this life is when you fail to try.” And after pausing and grinning even bigger adding, “And on that count I think I took about every chance I ever had.”

That’s a pretty good way to live your life. And hasn’t been lost on me or many others inside and outside of the family who knew him.

He would have been proud of his and his friend’s legacy tonight. And, of course, disappointed he wasn’t selected as the keynote speaker. ; )


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