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I want to be a duck.

I want to be a duck, just like my mom, Frieda. Mind you, I am not calling my mom a long-necked bird. But, a few weeks ago, my sister Jackie and I were talking about my mom’s upcoming 90th birthday, and why she continues to live a long, healthy life.

We immediately discussed the fact that she does not let things stress her out. She never has. We’ve both watched my mom for more than 50 years, and the one thing we’ve always noticed is how she is so positive. The glass is always half-full for her.

We’ve even joked that if someone were to spit on her, she would say, “It’s raining!”

Admittedly, our mom has great genes. Her father lived well into his 90s. But we think the secret to her long life is her ability to not see obstacles, not let things stop her and the fact that she surrounds herself with people she likes.

Jackie and I call it “being a duck.” Think about it…When a duck is splashed with water, instead of the water being absorbed, and weighing the duck down, it gently rolls right off its feathers.

So whenever our mom faces an obstacle, hurdle or problem, she just lets it roll right off her shoulders…like a duck does with water.

I think that this avoidance, or management, of stress is her secret to long life. And I’m pretty sure that science will back this up: I’ve read many times how stress management can affect someone’s cardiac health. Yoga and meditation have grown in popularity in recent years because of stress management. My mom’s stress management techniques include frequent naps and listening to relaxing classical music throughout the day.

On August 10, Frieda celebrated her 90th birthday. We had a relaxing, garden party in her backyard.

You can see her smiling face, surrounded by our closest family members.

As a surprise, my niece, Jennifer Caplan Herbig, wrote and read this poem in honor of Grandma Frieda’s birthday.

Grand Woman Divine 

Some would say time has been good to her, 
But I say she’s been good for time. 
So many of us fortunate 
over many a year 
to hear what’s on her mind. 

She has no time for petty drama, 
But will listen if she must. 
Each day for her is valuable, 
Too precious for fits and fuss. 

In the eyes of her industry, 
she is royalty. 
A Lioness, 
A Produce Pioneer, 
The Kiwi Queen. 
To be one of her subjects 
while she’s holding court 
is a special gift received. 
She has a way of lifting you up 
and seeing the best there is to see. 

She tries not to worry too much 
’bout the heavy things in life. 
She instead takes action, 
letting life’s abstractions 
drift into to the wind 
so that her hours are focused, 
spoiling those she treasures 
time and time again. 

Even the smallest moments 
with her are quality 
because when she speaks to you 
you’re her favorite friend, 
grandchild, daughter or son. 

In that moment, you’re the only one. 
That is until it’s nap time. 
Time to refuel 
to complete her list of important to-dos. 

She’s almost always open 
to hear what you have to say. 
If she doesn’t have the answer 
no doubt she knows someone 
who can assist you right away. 

With all of her many accomplishments, 
and all of her high esteem, 
when speaking of herself she is brief, humble and would much rather, it seems, 
roar loudest about the joy and deeds, 
of her children, friends and colleagues. 

She is so many things to us all, 
But she certainly is no Granny. 
She’s an Entrepreneur 
A Social Butterfly 
A Force of Nature tested by time 
A Generous Spirit with infinite shine 
A Role Model 
A Grand Woman Divine! 

I want to be a duck, just like my mom!


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