This past September, my Grandfather, Elden LaRoy Ord turned 103. Born in 1913, he is quite an individual. He recently relocated from California to Cedar Hills, Utah to be closer to my parents in Provo, Utah. I had a chance to pay him a visit on February 10th, 2017. What a wonderful person. Of course, who would have thought he would be in retirement over 40 years. Since I work with retired clients in my financial planning practice each day, he has become the poster child for addressing longevity risk, the risk of running out of money in one’s golden years. Clearly, he’s got great genes!
I asked him about his posterity and he gave me these numbers. He and my Grandmother Leola Ord had 5 children. My mother was the oldest. His beloved Leola and he were married for 63 years. During my visit, he noted that they now have 22 grandchildren, 87 great grandchildren and 28 great, great grandchildren. What a posterity!
What’s so amazing is that he is doing incredibly well at 103! We had a great chat and covered a range of topics. During our visit, knowing he is prone for waxing eloquent on a range of topics, I had my trusty iphone Voice Memo App ready to captured a few gems. Of these, I transposed a few. When we got on the topic of finances he asked me if I knew the secret of thrift.
He then said,
“On the verge of splurge, purge the urge.”
I am still chuckling. Now, how about that wisdom for an American culture over saturated with consumerism and the terminal, “get it now disease?” I still get a smile when I repeat this counsel.
On the topic of the power of the human spirit he said,
“There is no thrill in easy sailing when the sky is clear and blue. There is no fun in merely doing things which anyone can do. But, there is some satisfaction that is mighty sweet to take, it’s when you reach a destination that you thought you’d never make.”
Oh, how I love this thought on risk and the satisfaction received when reaching for higher ground.
In asking how he was feeling, he pivoted to this poem:
There is nothing the matter with me
I’m as healthy as can be.
I have arthritis in both my knees
And when I talk, it’s with a wheeze,
My pulse is weak and my blood is thin,
But I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in.
Arch supports I have for my feet,
Or I wouldn’t be able to go on the street.
Sleep is denied me night after night,
And in the morning I’m a fright,
My memory is failing, my head’s in a spin,
I’m almost living on aspirin.
But I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in.
The moral is this – as my tale I unfold,
That for you and me who are growing old,
It’s better to say, “I’m fine” with a grin,
Than to let folks know the shape you’re in.
We had a fun chuckle after this recitation as well. And then I asked him for my all-time favorite. Ever since I was a young child my favorite has been, Gantforth the Goldfish. He would always recite it upon my request. I think my children have made it their favorite as well. Incidentally, they call him, “Grandpa the Great!”
Here it goes:
Gantforth the Goldfish alone in his aquarium.
Languished because there was no one to marry him.
Copious the tears that be spattered his vesture.
Life without love was to Gantforth a gesture
Fate per adventure then threw him a creature
A flapper fish, perfect in figure and feature
He loved her at once, but the hussy she spurned him
Cruel was the lesson in love that she learned him
Opening his mouth then he swallowed much water
Swallowed more water than he had otter.
They found him afloat, truth to tell, but not swimin’.
Another sad victim to fall for fair women.
Well, it was wonderful to see him again. I don’t know how long he will be with us, but what a special person. He has always been so personable and kind to me. He has his complete wits and mind about him, which in a world of cognitive failure among our seniors is a real blessing. Consequently, you can sit and converse with him and still have a most meaningful conversation.
Of course, I have had a great relationship with my grandfather my whole life. How grateful I am for this. His example speaks volumes in so many ways. This is an individual who has never been pre-occupied with things. Material possessions have just not been that important to him. My grandparents lived a very comfortable American middle class life, but not extravagant in any way.
Here is a picture of Elden and Leola and their family likely in 1952. My mother Claudia, is pictured to the far right at 16 years old. She is the oldest of the five children. The order of the children are Claudia, Karen, John, Steve and Tim. They are all alive today and honor Elden in their special and unique ways.
His career was in the banking industry. He started with Bank of America when he was 17 years old. It would be the only job he ever had. This doesn’t happen today! He loved Bank of America through and through. He worked his way up to the position of Bank Manager of the Covina Main Office in Covina, California.
Who works at one job their whole life? Now there is a job paradigm shift! I remember as a young teenager going to his retirement party. I think was 15 or 16 years old at the time. He was beloved by his co-workers.
I have never seen my grandfather angry. Oh, I would guess he has succumbed in his life to this emotion, but no one has ever share with me that he has behaved this way. Amazing! Truly a carrying and loving individual. No doubt this disposition has contributed to his longevity.
Here is a picture of him and I in 2003 at his 90th Birthday celebration.
My grandmother, Leola Ord, passed away on Mother’s Day of 2000. As previously noted, her and my grandfather had been married 63 years. In the final moments before she slipped away, while holding my grandfather’s hand, she said, “Please, don’t be too long.” Her tender request evidenced her enduring faith in their temple marriage which bound them for not only life, but for all eternity. Her request was a fitting postmark to a life-long romance. Elden and Leola were certainly devoted to each other.
Over the years, after each visit with my grandfather, I always come away with a feeling of being re-centered on what matters most. I am not sure how to explain the experience, but the wisdom reflected in his life is rather disarming and most encouraging. In these moments, the world seems to pause, even stop for a time. I feel a strong sense of what’s truly important and find myself reflecting on a range of principles or attributes that I need to focus. A sense of assurance ensues that if I engage more diligently I might enjoy life more meaningfully and abundant.
Some of the principles I have gleaned from his life are as follows: enduring love, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, simplicity, work ethic, commitment, frugality, honesty, service, a can-do spirit, principle-centered leadership and an enduring declared testimony of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Thank you Grandpa for centering me once again…