Posted by: Kathy Cassidy | June 20, 2008

What Would You Do With Ninety-Nine Years?

My grandfather has filled those years with learning. 


When he retired from farming, he decided to take up pottery.  He bought himself a kiln and a potter’s wheel, and taught himself how to do it.  After awhile he wanted to try something new, so he took up wood carving.  The items he carved weren’t simple, basic shapes, but animals and people.  He learned what kinds of wood worked best and how to look at the wood and see its potential.  Many carvings later, he decided to look into building bird houses and butterfly houses.  He confided to me that people would actually pay up to fifty dollars for one of the butterfly houses and smirked as he said that that gave him enough money to get the materials for two or three more.  


He wondered what it was like to tap maple trees and get syrup.  He tired that and was successful.  The next year he decided to try it with poplar trees, which are much more plentiful in our area.  This, too, was successful.  Growing giant pumpkins, raising fish, gardening — all things he has learned to do since his “retirement”.


A few years ago, when he was already in his nineties, he asked for and received a spinning wheel for Christmas.  He got some wool from one of his grandchildren who raises sheep, and taught himself how to card it and spin it into yarn.  Then, he needed something to do with the yarn, so he learned how to knit.


At his birthday party last night, I asked him what he would like to do next.  “Paint”, was his response. 


I think his interest in learning is part of the secret of his longevity.  What an example of a life-long learner for all of his many, many descendents. 


Happy birthday, Grandpa!  I can’t wait for your 100th next year.



  1. Thanks for sharing this inspirational story. Learning in its truest form and truest sense of the word. Wow. I can’t imagine filling that many years that well. Happy birthday!

  2. What a wonderful example of life-long learning. It’s what makes life interesting!

  3. Thank you for introducing us to your grandfather, Kathy! He is living proof of the power of active learning.

  4. Thanks for the effort of putting this together for Dad. He has been an inspiration to me over the years and I hope to have half his energy when I am close to his age.

  5. We are friends of Ron & Gail through Friendship Force. In fact, we are staying with them as I write this. Ron has told us a great deal about his dad. Quite an inspiration! I am nowhere near his age but heading that way. People such as he are my heroes. Go 100!

  6. Hats off to you Kathy–what a great idea for Grandpa.
    We are so fortunate to live so close to Grandpa and have him in our lives.
    Our sons and their wives feel the same about this “Great” Grandfather.
    Grandpa has taught us to always live in the present and look to the future.
    Not only is it a privilege to have him as a Grandfather, but to have worked along side him on our farm has been an honour.
    May his longevity live on in our family.

  7. Congratulations to Bert! He is truly an inspiration for all of us and has definitely set the bar to live life to the fullest.

    What a joy to say we know such a wonderful man and his wonderful family.

  8. Great story. What an interesting man.
    Thanks for sending to us.

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