Not Tracking Years
|by Frances Joyce, June 2013|
Did you ever meet someone whose looks and energy level belied their age? It’s inspiring and maybe a little intimidating. Meet Anastasia (Stacie) Metrose and Dottie Delancey.
Stacie is 80 years young. She is Greek with dark hair and sparkling eyes. Trim and naturally tan because of her olive complexion, the clock seems to have stood still for this ageless beauty. She takes Zumba class twice a week with women young enough to be her daughters and granddaughters. Stacie plays tennis, paddle tennis, and recently pickle ball. An avid gardener, she travels extensively and also works as an associate to a consultant for the ETC Clothing line, specializing in upscale women’s fashion.
Stacie’s husband passed away 12 ½ years ago. Together they raised two children. Stacie worked as an elementary school teacher for forty years, teaching first and fifth grades in the Pittsburgh Public School system and later in the Baldwin/Whitehall School District.
Dottie is 73. She is fair with piercing blue eyes. Her smile has a “girl next door” quality more reminiscent of a childhood friend than a grandmother. She enjoys gardening, tennis, paddle tennis, pickle ball, and golf in addition to snow skiing and water skiing, ice skating, and roller blading. She participated in The Great Race for ten years and once won the 50-59 year-old age bracket for the half marathon.
Married at a young age, Dottie had five children and she and her husband eventually divorced. Dottie was primarily a stay at home mom when her kids were small, but she always worked part-time. Dottie was an active role model for her children; she served as PTA president and worked concessions at her sons’ baseball games. She has owned apartments, restaurants, and a hotel. The hotel was a family run business and she enjoyed working with her children. She turned the hotel into a boarding house for foreign exchange students before selling it. Thirty-five years ago, she remarried and moved to Pittsburgh. She and her husband rehabbed houses until he passed away three years ago.
Dottie and Stacie met through Tennis and Paddle Tennis about fifteen years ago and became fast friends.
“It’s hard to imagine a time when we didn’t know each other. We have so much in common,” says Stacie as Dottie nods in agreement.
I asked Stacie and Dottie questions about life and aging and here are their answers.
What is the secret to staying young?
Stacie: Keep moving and surround yourself with people of all ages. You can learn something new from anyone. As long as you are learning, you are growing as a person. I have always worked, and I believe a strong work ethic is important.
Dottie: Yes, keep moving! Don’t dwell on every ache or pain. I still feel twenty-five and I don’t worry about aging. I think people are too hung up on the numbers. For example, my son’s father-in law passed away recently and he and his wife have been helping her mom. Well, my son decided it was not safe for his mother-in-law to use the pull down stairs to go into the attic so he removed them. She had a fit, but he ignored her and refused to bring them back. When he was at my house he saw the tall ladder in my garage and tried to take it from me. Needless to say, my ladder is still in the garage.
What is your beauty regiment?
Stacie: I don’t use soap on my face and I always use a moisturizer. I don’t use any other products, except sunscreen, and I have no desire to try any cosmetic procedures. I exercise and eat a healthy Mediterranean diet. We Greeks love our Olive Oil, and I believe it is essential to a healthy diet. I am on no medications. If I have the occasional ache or pain or a headache, I take some Advil. I don’t smoke and only drink in moderation.
Dottie: Gosh, I wash my face with soap all the time. I’ve never thought about it. Other than sunscreen, I don’t worry about it. I exercise, don’t drink or smoke, and I have always eaten healthy foods.
What’s been the most rewarding part of growing older?
Stacie: I’m calmer and more confident, but the best part of aging is my grandchildren. I love to spend time with them doing active things. They think I’m cool. My grandson had to pick a favorite photo for his biography when he was in fourth grade. He selected a picture of the two of us playing tennis. I never knew my grandparents, so I never knew how special the relationship could be until I became a grandmother.
Dottie: I’m definitely more confident. I know what I like and I’m not afraid to try new things. My grandkids think I can do anything. That’s such a wonderful feeling.
Other than physical fitness, what are the perks of an active lifestyle?
Stacie: I have met the most amazing friends. My activities fill my calendar, and I don’t get lonely. I never lived alone until my husband’s death. It was an adjustment for me. I needed to stay busy and my friends were there for me. The more I do, the more friends I make and the richer my life becomes.
Dottie: I dread the day when I can’t do all these wonderful activities. Staying connected with people is especially important if you are a widow. Sports have given me a wonderful network of caring friends. We never sit around and discuss our aches and pains or who had what surgical procedure. I couldn’t stand that, and I never want to become that person.
As you age what is your greatest physical challenge?
Stacie: I haven’t encountered it yet. I have always been active and as long as I stay active I hope I never experience it. I went to New Orleans with Habitat for Humanity after Hurricane Katrina and helped build homes in the sweltering heat. I also went to an orphanage in Guatemala and visited the Holy Land, so I feel that age is no barrier to physical activity.
Dottie: I don’t think I have encountered it either. My greatest challenge used to be making time for myself when my kids were small. My biggest challenge now is people’s perception of what aging should be. I just bought a new house to rehab. My present home is finally the way I want it, and now I’m on to the next challenge. People think I should be downsizing. I tried condo life twice, and I didn’t like all the rules. I enjoy the freedom and responsibility of home ownership.
You are both avid gardeners. Is it part of your fitness regimen?
Stacie: Absolutely! It’s healthy to be out in the fresh air and sunshine. My yard brings me so much pleasure. I have special plants that have been gifts. My daughter had a yellow magnolia tree planted in my yard for Mother’s Day because I admired the one in her yard in Connecticut. I love to sit outside and enjoy the fruits of my labor.
Dottie: I feel the same way. It’s relaxing and a wonderful creative outlet.
Do you have any tips for women on how to age gracefully?
Stacie: Keep moving. Never doubt your abilities. Stay connected with friends. Never stop learning, and never think you know it all.
Dottie: Absolutely, keep moving and try new things. Cherish your friends and your abilities. Stop thinking in terms of years and make the moments count.