On Aging Well.

One thing that’s important to know about me is that I have a Grandma who’s 97 years old. Ninety-seven years old and still living on her own, taking zero medications, driving, burning her own trash, and traveling all over the country. Doris Musick is one of my heroes, and it’s fun to have a hero in your family line. I like to think about all the things she’s seen, being born in 1920 and still being alive in 2017… the Great Depression, the invention of television, telephones, the Internet, and all kinds of things, the assassination of JFK, multiple wars… down to funny things like airbags and salad spinners. She does own a flip phone and a flat screen TV, but she told me she doesn’t want to know anything about the Internet  : )

We celebrate her birthday every January down in Monroe, Louisiana, usually at this Mexican restaurant on the highway. I’ve made a habit of trying to stay with her several days before or after and just spending time with her. I’ve turned her into a case study in some ways, because I’m always trying to figure out, “How can I grow old and be awesome like Grandma?” She broke her hip in 2013, at age 93, and we all thought it was the beginning of the end. Wrong. She did her PT exercises and bounced back like a champ, was driving again six weeks later. Who does that?!?

One of the things I’ve noticed about her in all my research is that she hangs out with her friends and gets involved in things. She does not sit around waiting for life to happen to her. She volunteers and has trips and events to look forward to. In fact, she has something to look forward to every Friday night. She gets gussied up, puts on her shiny sandals and her lipstick, and rides an hour with 4 friends to Columbia, Louisiana where 30+ older folks gather every week for a jam session. I kid you not, because I stayed a whole extra week this past January just to attend this Friday night gathering with her. I could hardly believe it. A couple named A.B. and Geneva own a house there, and next to their house stands a long mobile home that they purchased for the sole purpose of having a place to make music with friends. How amazing is that?! I watched the people pour in that night, too, bringing instruments and food to share. They play music from 6:30-7:30, break for a bit to eat and talk, then play again from 8:15- whenever they get too tired. They played til 1 a.m. the night I was there! They also insisted that I sing not once, but twice, and that I play the congos for a few songs before we took off.

Grandma has been telling me about this gathering for several years, ever since she started going, and she has a special smile that washes over her face when she talks about it. I made a point to bring my camera when I went, because I want to share those smiles with the rest of the world. I want everyone to know what the good people of Louisiana are doing to stay young at heart even as their bodies age. They’re making music and gathering with their friends! And here are some photos of that special evening.

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As you enter…

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A.B. has designed a homemade bass because his upright was too heavy to keep toting around.
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Ah, the Grandma grin :)

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He shared some original songs with us!
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Harmonica battle! (the woman on the right has only learned how to play in the past 6 years, since she started attending the jam sessions)

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Some make the music, and some make the coffee. Both are important!
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Boyfriend and Girlfriend, I’m told.
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A.B. & Geneva, the couple who started it all!

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This is one of the songs I sang. It’s a crowd pleaser.

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