“One should not lie about one’s age,” a retired academic says judiciously, replying to questions whether one should lie about one’s age.
“Beauty is only skin-deep, what matters is character and the ‘legacy’ that you’ll leave behind. Beauty mellows with age, which carries wisdom and glory.”
This was the straight away answer of retired Professor and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Wilma C. Natividad at the Mariano Marcos State University of Batac in Ilocos Norte.
The 73-year-old holder of a doctorate in science in chemistry from nearby Paoay town was answering questions during a pre-weekend interview, no longer worried about getting late to the university, just four kilometers due east from her hometown.
In her case, there is no more bundy clock punching, no more papers to sign and reports to read, no more meetings to attend and to preside over; no more academic problems to solve, no worry about accreditation and so on.
The day after officially retiring from the MMSU, “I taught Biochemistry at the MMSU Graduate School where I was a core faculty when I was still in the university and the same course at the MMSU College of Medicine for two years more.”
While she relished eating everything pre-retirement, now the grandmother of two, who lives with her 94-year-old mother, has had to cut down on sweets, pastries, fast and processed food, fried as well as oil rich or fatty foods.
The retired scholar, who wakes up after sunrise followed few minutes of meditation – first of two such during the day, the second before retiring to bed – is now more on fruits, vegetables, and natural fruit juices in keeping with doctor’s advice.
But she religiously takes in maintenance medicines to regulate her blood sugar, cholesterol, uric acid, and triglyceride levels.
She also takes vitamins and other supplements to maintain healthy liver, bones, blood and kidneys, has eye drops regularly following recent cataract surgery on both eyes.
How does she stay active following her retirement from the academe?
With the speed of thunderclap, Natividad says she does some mild exercises like stretching, shoulder shrugging, dance moves, household chores, 15-minute exercises at home, stretching, self massage, legs propping up as advised and taught by a physical therapist.
And she finds space to read the papers, watch TV (news and talk shows involving doctors, credible politicians, commentaries…no silly teleseryes).
She has included in her weekday routine checking on her two grandchildren’s breakfast and provisions for lunch as well as morning and afternoon snacks.
As part of her healthy regimen, she consumes 10-12 glasses of drinking water a day, and no sodas.
At her age, she feels strong, although she admits “I am trying to slow down a little bit; I don’t like a bad fall.”
Asked when she started feeling old, she repeated the word: “Old? If feeling pains in the hips and legs might be considered old, well I felt these at 72.
“After X-rays (at St Luke’s Medical Center in Metro Manila) the doctor just gave me some vitamins for bones and said I have to take it easy.”
To relieve herself of stress, she goes to the mall, eat out with her husband, also a retired doctor of agicultural engineering, and their grandchildren, attend mass and socio-cultural gatherings, and being active as lector and commentator.
Any secrets for aging gracefully?
“No secrets…I pray a lot, I lift up my worries to the Lord, don’t keep up with the Joneses, don’t pick a fight with anyone, stay away from rumor-mongers, kind to everyone, just be my own humble self and be at peace with myself and the world.
And she participates in meetings where she is an officer in various civic and religious organizations, including the group of retirees in her hometown and nearby Currimao.
At her age, are there things she wants to do still?
Fast on the draw, Natividad says she wants “to travel more, see more places in the Philippines although I have been to many places before when I was still in active service and to go back to the US again with Rudy,this time to visit our daughter who is now working as a nurse at the surgery dept of a hospital there.
“Our only regret is that we were not able to visit her in London where she worked as an Operating Room nurse before she went to the US.
As an elderly, what constitutes her diet?
“Not much on high carbs and fatty foods, more on milk, a little coffee, fruits and veggies … organic? I think that’s just a buzz word, fashionable word. Nothing is really organic now,” she says.
Any worries as a senior? “During my ‘paranoid’ moments, I worry how we (she and her husband) will be when we get so old and very dependent.
“It’s good that in the ripe age of 94, my mother is with me, my two brothers and sister are very cooperative and supportive.”
Are there things she misses doing now that she is in her retirement years that she used to do pre-retirement?
A lot, which includes missing the meetings and camaraderie shared among VPs and other officials of universities she got to interact with, giving lectures and grabbing total attention from her captive audience in the classroom, the hustle and tension, stress and unnecessary sleepless nights whenever quality assurance accreditation of programs came every so often.
She says: “And of course the joy and triumphant fulfillment when the program accreditation results come in and we passed with flying colors, the intellectual interaction with colleagues and the awe and respect of students enrolled in my course, staying up late in the dining table to study/scrutinize papers before signing, read reports and academic information and other happenings”
She adds: “A day in the office is never enough for these, writing speeches…attending to visitors who would like to benchmark with the university, among others.”
As an elderly, what would be her advice to those still in pre-retirement years?
“Love your work, treasure your friends, save as much as you can, live with prudence and within your means, assert yourself when you know you are right, be humble with achievements and take care of your home and family.
“Work, earn, save, enjoy and have faith in the Lord.”
Are there things she does to make herself active?
She quickly admits “reading, interacting and getting involved in community work, keeping honest and real people for company, friendship, and interaction, meeting or communicating with relatives and friends very often, engaging in discussion and being at peace with members of family, being nice to neighbors, and just ignoring them otherwise – to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”