DEAR ABBY: After reading your comment to "Young and in Love in Toronto" -- the 26-year-old woman who's in love with a 50-year-old man -- I was so hot under the collar that I had to take my dog for a two-mile walk, then cut and split a cord of wood in order to cool off. You see, I'll be 84 this year, so according to you, I am "doddering"!
I walk 18 holes of golf, square dance every Friday and alternate Saturday nights, am active in the community and am part-time editor of our local seniors newsletter. And this doddering octogenarian is being married this month to my square dance partner of the last four years, who is 18 years younger.
I hope you get a ton of mail from other doddering octogenarians. -- BOB F., CLAREMONT, CALIF.
DEAR BOB: Did I ever. I had no idea there were so many active seniors until I used the "d-word." I deserved 80 lashes with a wet noodle, and I got it. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: My father is running, not "doddering," through his later years. I wouldn't be surprised if he lives to be 100. At 80, dear old Dad went to Mongolia, slept in tents and rode camels. He still works a full-time job, travels around the country and writes articles. He fishes, and walks an 18-hole golf course once a week -- and doesn't use a golf cart. His cholesterol is only 135, and his cardiologist says his heart is as healthy as it can be for an 82-year-old. Please rethink your advice to "Young and in Love." You never know -- that man might outlive her! -- CATHY U., CHOCKTAW, OKLA.
DEAR CATHY U.: You're right. No one has a contract with God.
DEAR ABBY: I resent the term "doddering." Every morning I walk briskly for 30 minutes and do 30 minutes of weight training three times a week. Last year I wrote lesson materials for beginner and intermediate courses in computer training for seniors, and taught the material in eight three-hour sessions at the local branch of the University of South Florida. I sit on the board of a nonprofit corporation, serve on the executive committee of the retirement community where we live and edit our monthly newsletter. I am 82 years old.
One of my neighbors, who is several years older than I, has decided to give up flying and sell his airplane. However, he continues to ride his motorcycle.
My wife volunteers at the regional hospital here. Of course, she's only 79. -- NOT DODDERING IN LAKELAND, FLA.
DEAR NOT: I'm sure many people far younger wish they could be as active and productive as you are. Including me.
Readers, a question I am frequently asked by women "of a certain age" is "where are all the good men?" Well, after reading the onslaught of mail I have received from outraged octogenarians, I have the answer: They're all over the place.
According to Dr. Gary Small, director of the UCLA Center on Aging and respected expert on healthy aging, people who stay active physically and mentally, who eat sensibly and watch their blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, live fuller, longer and more vital lives. His new book, "The Memory Prescription" (Hyperion), details a program of diet, mental and physical exercise, and stress reduction that literally jump-starts brain and body fitness -- and his UCLA study backs it up.