A short message from Aunt Lois at her 90th birthday party, as paraphrased by me, an appreciative nephew:

Live each day as if the sun is shining bright and it’s going to be your best day yet. Be open and curious to everyone around you for they each have something to offer. Don’t burn any bridge behind you; you will be traveling back that way. Play as a child plays. Don’t think too hard about whether you want to partake in an adventure, just step right in and do it. Always be ready to be awed and amazed. Remember the good times. Cherish your family members and support each of them; focus more on being interested in their lives than being interesting in sharing yours. Always say “thank you.” Accept, even embrace, pain: it will make you stronger and wiser. Respect and support organizations that bring good people together for a common cause, whether that be your church, the Y, an old train depot, your hospital or an arboretum. Be kind. As individuals age, reach out and give them both of your hands. Appreciate art, write poems and remember who you are in your heart. Love, and accept the love of others.

Note: Aunt Lois, from the little town of Boone, Iowa, was celebrating her birthday with 180 of her closest friends and relatives in a wooded shelter south of town. After a big dinner and birthday cake, she invited all of us over to her house to continue the soiree. It was after my bedtime, but I was ready to be awed and amazed…again.