03/26/2015 12:28 EDT | Updated 05/26/2015 05:59 EDT

6 Things My 90-Year-Old Grandfather Has Taught Me About Life

Senior man looking at camera, close-up, cropped
PhotoAlto/Isabelle Rozenbaum via Getty Images
Senior man looking at camera, close-up, cropped


My grandfather recently turned 90, and while I revel in the 45 years I've spent with him, I'm thrilled to know that he's spent half his life with me around. It's been an incredible gift.

His birthday weekend was a collection of four generations of family. I took him to a hockey game -- he drove. As you can expect, I was terrified riding shotgun for a nonagenarian and my grandfather gave zero cares.


We took him to a miniature train riding place, we went for a walk on the White Rock pier, we had fish and chips. Light, easy, family stuff. It was perfect.

I don't take my grandfather for granted. I soak up every single second I'm lucky enough to spend with him. I often wonder if, when I see him, if that will be the last time. After all, he's the only grand I have left.

So what have I learned watching my grandfather? What lessons can I take from a man who has made it to 90 and shows no sign of slowing down? Here are six things:

1. Pay Attention To The Little Guy

My grandfather always told me to pay attention to the little guy. "One day he'll be the boss," he warned. As a salesman who called on businesses around Montreal, my grandfather always chatted with the front office clerk as much as he did with the purchasing agent. He was laying the foundation for future bridges, playing the long game. And it served him well, he didn't retire until he was 70.

2. Plan For The Future

While my grandfather was good at building his business for the future, he didn't set himself up for it. He rented the top floor of a Montreal home for most of his adult life in the city. He didn't own. At a time when property values skyrocketed, creating one of the wealthiest generations on record, he was passed over. As my grandparents neared 80, my parents bought a bigger house than they had when all the kids were living with them so the grands could move into a basement suite.


3. Control Your Destiny

My grandfather was in his late teens as the second World War raged on. Faced with being conscripted and heading to Europe, he chose to enlist on his own in the Merchant Marines. "If you were drafted, they told you where to go," he recounted to me one year on Remembrance Day. "So I enlisted so I could choose where I went." My grandfather would spend the final years of the war working on Canadian Corvettes escorting ships between New York, Halifax, and Bermuda.

4. Chill Out

I get my temper from my grandfather. As we blasted down the highway to the hockey game, he grumbled about drivers, flashed his lights at people driving too slow, and was irritated. It was like taking a ride with myself. I am just like that guy, and being a passenger in the car I was witness to my own temper. We have called him Grumps for more than 30 years for a reason. He's not angry, he's still a loving, caring, beautiful man -- he's just rough around the edges. I could use to smooth mine.


5. Get Out

At 90 my grandfather is an active lawn bowler and bridge player. Every single day of the week his calendar is filled with something. Whether he's spotted a deal on chicken at the store, or needs to cross the border for some gas, he's out and getting things done on his own. At 90 he's still one of the best lawn bowlers at his club, winning major tournaments every year.

6. Sleep Naked And Have A Cookie Before Bed

With a full house for my grandfather's birthday, I was sleeping in a pull out bed in my grandfather's apartment in my parent's basement. It was 10 p.m., and he had gone downstairs about an hour earlier. As I sat in the shadows in his chair doing some writing, my grandfather -- all 90 naked years and 152 pounds of him, wandered by. "Oh, I didn't see you there," he said, startled. "I was just getting a cookie." And then he went back to bed. Presumably, to sleep naked among his bedtime cookie crumbs.

If that's what it takes to get to 90, I'll do it.


Buzz Bishop is a Calgary dad, broadcaster, and writer. You can find his parenting blog at, you can follow him on Twitter, and on Facebook.

This post originally appeared on The Blog According to Buzz.


  • Vladimir Yakovlev/Rex
    그레타 폰타렐리(Greta Pontarelli)는 63세다. 그녀는 '골다공증'을 진단받았던 2년 전, 폴 댄스를 시작했다."뼈를 튼튼하게 만들기 위해서는 좀 거친 운동이 필요했어요. 하지만 단지 무거운 걸 들고 내리는 운동은 너무 지루했죠. 그게 내가 폴 댄스를 하게 된 이유에요."
  • Vladimir Yakovlev/Rex
    로이드 칸(Lloyd Kahn)은 65세에 처음으로 스케이트 보드를 탔다. 처음 보드에 올라탔던 순간, 그는 손을 다쳤다. 이후 그는 무릎과 팔꿈치 보호대, 헬멧을 장착한 후 스케이트 보드를 타기 시작했다. 지금 로이드는 79세다. "나한테는 특별한 기술이 없어요. 10대 애들처럼 스케이트 보드를 탈 수 있는 것도 아니죠. 나는 너무 빨리 달리려 하지 않았어요. 그래서 어려움을 극복할 수 있었죠."
  • Vladimir Yakovlev/Rex
    폴 피건(Paul Fegen)은 대부분의 인생을 백만장자로 살았다. 80세인 지금 그는 카드 마술사다. 66세에 파산을 겪은 그는 마술공연을 통해 돈을 벌고 있다.
  • Vladimir Yakovlev/Rex
    이본 돌(Yvonne Dole)은 80세가 되던 해, 교통사고를 당했다. 당시 의사는 "이제 스케이트를 그만 탈 때가 됐다"고 조언했지만, 그는 89세인 지금까지도 빙판을 누비고, 대회에도 출전하고 있다.
  • Vladimir Yakovlev/Rex
  • Vladimir Yakovlev/Rex
    몬트세렛 메초(Montserrat Mecho)는 비행기에서 몸을 던질 때 가장 행복한 사람이다. 이제 80세인 그녀는 지난 몇년 동안 1천번이 넘는 점프를 기록했다. 스카이다이버인 그녀는 스키를 타기도 하고, 윈드서핑도 즐기며 살고 있다.
  • Vladimir Yakovlev/Rex
    니나 멜리코바(Nina Melnikova)와 안토니아 쿨리코바(Antonina Kulikova)는 둘 다 79세다. 70세에 함께 합기도를 배우기 시작한 그들은 지금도 매주 두 번씩 3시간짜리 훈련을 받고 있다.
  • Vladimir Yakovlev/Rex
    88세의 요한나 쿼아스는 진정한 체조 스타다. 그녀는 56세에 처음 체조를 시작한 후, 지금까지 유연성을 간직하고 있다.
  • Vladimir Yakovlev/Rex
    단 친푸Duan Tzinfu)는 76세의 할아버지다. 하지만 60세부터 요가를 시작했던 그의 몸은 지금도 매우 유연하다. 요가를 시작하기 전 그는 약 40년간 유리생산공장에서 힘겨운 노동을 했다고 한다. 그때만해도 그는 걷는 것도 힘들어 했다고. 손이 발 끝에 닫기도 힘들 정도로 몸이 굳은 상태였다고 한다.
  • Vladimir Yakovlev/Rex
  • Vladimir Yakovlev/Rex
    루스 플라워스(Ruth Flowers)는 68세가 되던 해에 DJ가 되어야 겠다고 결심했다. 73세인 그녀는 유명한 클럽에서 공연을 하는 DJ가 됐다. 하지만 지난해 5월 27일, 사망했다. 그녀의 마지막 싱글 앨범인 'Kissy Kissy'를 발매한 지 약 한 달 후였다.
  • Vladimir Yakovlev/Rex
    존 로(John Lowe)는 80세에 처음 발레를 시작했다. 94세인 지금 그는 전문적인 댄서로 무대에도 오르는 중이다.