Tom Roper with his Aunt Olive on May 8 when she turned 100 years old in Mission, B.C. (Contributed photo)

Tom Roper with his Aunt Olive on May 8 when she turned 100 years old in Mission, B.C. (Contributed photo)

Longevity could come down to ‘plan de vida’

Tom examines the secrets to living a long life

You know, I do get some of my inspiration for stories from friends.

I was enjoying a lunch break at the Creamery the other day, no doubt a very special culinary delight in Telkwa. I was mentioning to the proprietors Christine and Alfie that there seems to be a terrible run on the passing of some of our friends.

While on vacation last fall I returned to hear my millwright friend Gus had died. I was so sorry to hear that. And then Tom Buri passed on, he was a very caring man. And Dave Stephens, you always remember him wearing his big red hat and shorts in the middle of winter.

Now I see Norm Adomeit in the paper that same week. I didn’t know Norm that well but he was always friendly and a big part of the community.

Christine suggested I should maybe do a column on dying and I wasn’t so sure. I have had my troubles last year also with the passing of my dad and my baby sister.

It’s a very tough subject to write on as everyone has their emotion and compassion tied to their friends and family that have passed on.

No doubt some of us are reaching toward that magical age of three-score and 10. Others have that licked, but as I like to say, it’s only a number, right? One of my interests has always been longevity.

Herman Jackrabbit Johannsen, founder of the Jackrabbit ski program and one of my folk heroes had his last ski at 104 and died at 111. I read that a local Indigenous lady was thought to be 122.

And ever since Huckleberry Harry Anderson from Houston said to me on his seventieth birthday, halfway to 140, I wondered if that was possible.

I was reading through a Facebook news story that was discussing centenarians. Seems they have classified several areas in the world as blue zones. These are areas where the inhabitants are living longer than average. Sardinia Italy, Okinawa Island, Icaria Greece, Nicoya Costa Rica and Loma Linda California.

Why people in these zones are living longer is the question and the evidence is based on five habits, the first being movement. People in these areas try to walk to their destinations. Well, we can do that in the Bulkley Valley.

The second habit is based on diet using the 80 per cent rule. Eat until you are 80 per cent full. Eat a lot of raw veggies and fruit, limited meat and processed foods and one to two glasses of wine a day.

The third practice is managing stress through pleasures, prayer, napping and infusing happy hour with friends and family.

Your environment plays a role in the fourth requirement. Clean air and safe water.

Number five is my favourite: have a purpose. The statement “Plan de Vida” meaning reason to live is practiced in full. Most elders in these communities are busy volunteering, gardening, interacting with their families and staying mentally active. Finding time to laugh and keeping a robust social circle has to be paramount. These are all habits we can do in the Bulkley Valley to work our way into the blue zone.

My auntie Olive turned 100 May 8 this year and I went south to Mission B.C. for the celebration.

I also have one of my own secrets. My father-in-law made it to 98 and a half and was active to the end.

We were very competitive in cards and games so it is important for me to beat him and make at least 100.

Are there any centenarians in the valley that could share some secrets of their own?

Call me at 250-877-1806 or email