98 and Game for Anything

Dot Grannen thrives on spontaneity and a readiness to join in on the fun. “If you’re asked to go somewhere,” insists the intrepid 98-year old, “Go!” The essence of Dot’s vitality, affirms one of her grandsons, is that “she is always game for anything.” Dot concurs. “I can get ready in ten minutes,” she quips.

Her predilections for being active and engaged in everything around her have helped her cope with difficult times. “Life goes on,” Dot affirms.

She might be close to 100, but she insists her brain feels like it did when she was 20. Her physical state has also remained young – until she was 90 she jump-roped daily. “When you get older,” she says, “people think you can’t do anything.” She has agreed to talk with me to set the record straight.

Having a daughter with Down’s Syndrome, Dot took every opportunity to inform gawking passers-by about the syndrome and about Anita’s capabilities. “This little girl has Down’s Syndrome,” Dot would tell staring on-lookers, “Is there anything you would like to know

Dot has lived in her comfortable western Cincinnati home for forty years. In 1978 her beloved husband died. Since that time, on regular visits to his grave, Dot tells him, “It won’t be long, Frank, until we’re together again.” This has been going on for nearly thirty years.

She not only lives on but is extremely proud of her age and happy with her life, which is made full by her relationship with more than thirty family members, including twelve grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren. Being comfortable with people of all ages, she says, is one of the things that has kept her feeling young. Dot has accomplished everything she ever had in mind to do and still comes up with ideas for new things she wants to try.

Her family marvels at Dot’s world adventures, including travels to Japan and Guatemala. In 1999, at the age of 90, she fulfilled her longtime ambition to go on an Olympic bobsled run in Lake Placid, New York.

Dot says that in her long life, she has never been depressed. “I’ve certainly had bad days, like when I found out that my daughter was born with Down’s Syndrome,” she admits, but she refuses to dwell on the bad things.

She is passionate about her many enjoyments, most notably reading and sports (with a particular enthusiasm for watching Tiger Woods). “If sports are on television,” observes her granddaughter, “my grandmother is totally content.”

She has always been zealous about books. “If you know how to read,” she told the school kids whom she tutored in literacy, “you will never be lonesome.” Her favorite genre is mysteries, but she enjoys variety and has even read several tomes in the Harry Potter series. Through reading the newspaper and watching television news daily, she keeps involved in her surroundings.

Dot challenges her mind with word games; her favorite vocabulary diversion is seeing how many words she can create from a longer word. Her acuity for bridge is well-known to fellow players. “She is quick with cards,” her granddaughter says. “She really understands strategies.”

Laughter to her is essential. She is always ready to hear a joke or to tell one and easily delivers a punch line without missing a beat.

With financial acumen, Dot balances her own checkbook and knows not to fall for gimmicks that have duped so many others. She lives a modest existence, avoiding being frivolous with money or shopping for things she doesn’t need.

When it comes to others, however, her generosity knows no bounds. She is giving of both money and time, often volunteering for charities. From her seventies to her late eighties she delivered Meals on Wheels, at an age when, if she hadn’t been so spry, she might have been expected to be on the receiving end of the meal delivery.

At 96 Dot was ready for some company. She procured a new kitten, Sunshine, and threw a lively neighborhood party to make the feline feel welcome.

As always, Dot is ever on the go (she still drives), and though independent and enjoying alone time, staves off feeling isolated by staying connected with others. She energetically cooks and cleans, and, whenever she has a task to do, she is on it immediately.

“I absolutely can’t keep up with her,” asserts her 43-year old granddaughter.

Dot Grannen