To introduce myself, I am a registered dietitian and work in healthcare in Texas. I began this project with a book in mind, but decided to start blog to share the letters while trying to decide how to organize the book.
In May 2009, I was inspired by an article from the New York Times website about a 105 year old woman who received her first college degree at 88 years, wanted to get her masters, and still enjoys dancing. (Incidentally, she was the second person to write me!) I started to really wonder how old a person could actually live, and really live life. A little internet searching brought me to several stories of fascinating people who were alert, still loving life and over 100 years old. Now working in a hospital, you see your fair share of ‘old’ people. Old doesn’t necessarily reflect the amount of years a person has lived but their physical and mental health. When I see a particularly alert and spunky 90-100 year old, I sometimes like to ask them ‘what’s your secret?’. I get all kinds of fun answers such as raw onions everyday, garlic, bacon, and even Jack Daniels. That got me thinking how interesting it would be to get more ‘secrets’ and see how many people live long due to genes vs. lifestyle.
All the information collected is primarily through letter writing. In this day and age of instant information I wanted to connect to these individuals on a more personal level that would hopefully make them feel comfortable. Writing a letter to an elderly, total stranger is a rather funny thing to do. You have to find out where they live! Admittedly, I felt like a stalker but I reassured myself that people like getting letters. I tried to think about every detail. I picked out stationary that is cute yet non-threatening in every way. I provide a sticker with my return address and a stamp. I tell them a little about myself and my interests. But really, did I expect anyone to write back?