100 Lessons from 100 Years

100 Lessons from 100 Years

My grandfather turned 100 years old this past weekend. We had parties and meals together. I was exhausted but he just kept on going. Alas, maybe I didn’t get his genes.

Anyway, I have had the good fortune of knowing this man almost half his life and all of mine. So here are 100 things I have learned from my grandpa. It is a long list, but he is a smart guy and it wouldn’t make sense to give you 83 lessons when he is 100. Also, why not share his wisdom with those not able to claim a centenarian in their family? It seems something grandpa would want if he understood what ‘blog’ meant. He loves sharing.

  1. Look people in the eye when you shake their hand.
  2. Cheating at cards games is not really cheating.
  3. Exercise every day.
  4. It is 4 pm somewhere.
  5. When you are 100 but look like you are 80, you will still think you look old and wrinkly when you see yourself in pictures.
  6. Modesty is key.
  7. Turning the power off to test an electrical circuit is for pussies. (His word not mine).
  8. During a war, looking out a window to see who is riding a horse is ill advised. (He was shot at when he was 2 during the Russian Revolution).
  9. You don’t need safety equipment to use a chainsaw.
  10. Bears won’t bug you when you are picking blueberries as long as there are some for them.
  11. Laugh at your own jokes.
  12. Boiled water is best to do dishes in. Seriously, adding cold is for, you guessed it, pussies.
  13. The best toast is made on a propane stove with a toaster made out of a coffee can.
  14. Telling someone you love them could take practice.
  15. With brain power, you can think of a solution to any problem.
  16. Running is better than walking.
  17. Dogs improve your life.
  18. When you turn 100, get a bigger room for your party than you think.
  19. You will have to do more eulogies, but you also meet more babies when you get older.
  20. It’s ok to have some enemies.
  21. Sometimes not hearing everything is ok.
  22. Never forget to spin on a chair if you can.
  23. Don’t talk about pain when you can talk about joy.
  24. Be generous.
  25. Don’t be afraid of butter.
  26. Fresh air and good company make the whiskey evaporate.
  27. Hard work will never go out of style.
  28. Cry when you need to.
  29. Knowing what is going on in the world keeps your mind from thinking about your own worries.
  30. Teaching children anything is worth the effort.
  31. Hold hands.
  32. Eat smaller portions.
  33. Owning a cane means you have to carry it around with you but it doesn’t mean it has to touch the ground.
  34. Stand up for what you believe in.
  35. You can wire a house at 17 and still be doing it at 95.
  36. Give back.
  37. If you wrap a copper water pipe around a sauna chimney you can have hot water.
  38. If a kid in grade 1 teaches you your first words in English (or any language), they are likely to be bad words.
  39. Tonic water in your drink each night will prevent night leg cramps.
  40. Buttermilk should never be consumed on its own! (He drinks it, but he poured me a glass and I would not recommend it, even if it is the fountain of youth.)
  41. Having coffee every day will not take time off your life.
  42. Pancakes for breakfast are not just for Sundays.
  43. Playing cribbage is quality family time.
  44. Don’t leave the fireplace ashes too close to the cottage.
  45. You will not break your hip if you do a headstand or the full lotus when you are 90.
  46. Be grateful.
  47. Helping is more important than getting somewhere on time.
  48. Learn some magic tricks to entertain kids.
  49. Falling off a ladder will not hurt if it is from the first rung.
  50. One granddaughter per picture is enough.
  51. Be happy to see people.
  52. If you don’t succeed, try, try, try, try, try, and try. Eventually, you will get it.
  53. You can will someone to live longer if you love them enough.
  54. Surrounding yourself with family is good for your soul.
  55. Fillet a fish as soon as you get off the boat and have a very sharp knife.
  56. Always pick more blueberries than you need so you can share.
  57. Making people laugh when you are older is easy if you have three simple jokes.
  58. Love deeply.
  59. A woman doesn’t have to be older than yourself to call them a ‘little old lady.’
  60. Party all night sometimes.
  61. Never say no to a good opportunity.
  62. Handwrite cards and thank you notes.
  63. Take time to look out the window.
  64. Curiosity keeps your brain sharp.
  65. Listen.
  66. Give of yourself selflessly.
  67. Always wear a jacket to a wedding or a funeral.
  68. Go to church.
  69. Community is key.
  70. Take time to put ice in your drink.
  71. Sauna often–be born is a sauna if possible. Also, a sauna is never too hot.
  72. Followed by, no lake is too cold to jump in if you start in the sauna.
  73. Sitting down to rest is overrated when there are people to see.
  74. Eat fish.
  75. Stop at stop signs.
  76. Be early if you can.
  77. Safety shmafety.
  78. Math is more important than you think.
  79. If you plan to live to 100 find a great investment guy who doesn’t believe in actuarial tables.
  80. You can learn something new from anyone.
  81. Always bring a hat.
  82. Learn how to start a fire.
  83. Don’t be afraid.
  84. Putting people down will only bring you down.
  85. Be nostalgic.
  86. Horses will return to their home on their own if they are taken by rebel soldiers.
  87. It takes weeks to train a chipmunk to go in your pocket for peanuts, but it is worth it.
  88. Let everyone know what you drink so they know what to bring when they visit or have on hand when you are there.
  89. Take pictures sparingly. Being part of the moment is more important.
  90. Walk every single day.
  91. Take only one cookie so that others can have some.
  92. Having someone need you gives you purpose and is never inconvenient.
  93. Always have dessert in your freezer.
  94. Answer every single phone call.
  95. You can take the bark off a tree to make cribbage pegs, chairs, support beams, tables, really anything.
  96. The switch (branch) that your mother uses across your bottom needs to be just wide enough to not cut the skin, but thin enough to ‘bounce.’ Always take your time choosing in case she forgets or changes her mind (PS: she never does).
  97. Swings are more important than you think.
  98. Loyalty is everything. To your country, to family, to friends, and to your beliefs.
  99. Drive a car as long as anyone will let you.
  100. A little lie now and then to save someone’s feelings is OK.

I have learned so much from my grandfather that 100 doesn’t even cut it. I am so proud to be his granddaughter and hope to have more decades to celebrate with him. Finally, I leave you with this video. The quality is not good, but the quality of this man’s life it epic! I love you, grandpa.

I’d love you to share what you have learned from your grandparents/elders?

If you loved my grandpa once, you’ll love him twice. Read about him Turning 99.

(Main photo provided by Erika Wade Photography, Thunder Bay)


  1. One of my sister-in-law’s mother’s turned 103 last year. Totally amazing lady. Doesn’t look a day over 80! Your Gramps is great! I’m not that clever now, and don’t expect to become so later on. But if you want to be like him – stay out of the ER!

  2. “Safety shmafety” LOL! I’d love to spend an hour with him. I’m wondering what’s his thoughts on sunscreen? For pussies? 🙂
    Arionis recently posted…No Mountains? No Problem!My Profile

  3. I met a man who told me the secret to longevity:
    1. Find a good woman.
    2. Marry that woman.
    3. Don’t cheat on that woman.

    I responded that I’m in trouble then, because I have a husband!

  4. There’s so much wisdom collected in his century of life, but I especially love the poignant placement of #33 and #34 together ’cause you don’t need a cane to stand up for what you believe in.
    Christopher recently posted…Joy Ride.My Profile

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