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Photo credit: Kristina Leonardi

All I wanted this past birthday was to spend time with my very special friend Angie. She’s the great-aunt (but we just use the very fitting moniker of Great Angie) of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Michele.

Michele and I go way back. We met because our alphabetically assigned lockers were next to each other in middle school, and we’ve been experiencing the ups and downs of this journey called life together ever since, even though our lives have taken very different paths. She is the yang to my yin, the Roy to my Siegfried, and yes those were both costumes we dressed up as for Halloween years back … but I digress.

When I first met Angie about seven years ago at a family member’s wake, we hit it off right away, talking like we’d known each other for years. We “spoke the same language” and just “got” each other. We’ve had several in-person interactions since, and we keep in touch with cards and the occasional phone call.

At one point early on, when I was lamenting about something that I can’t quite recall now, she admonished me not to be worried by much or bothered by most people because I was in the “major leagues.” I just remember it was a big aha lightbulb moment and pivotal perspective for me that also became a special bond between us: We are on the same team.

I never knew my maternal grandfather and could count on two hands the number of times I visited my paternal grandparents. My maternal grandmother was around until I was an adult, but she was not that warm and didn’t share much of herself. (Years later, I realized this was likely because she was chronically depressed…) Both my parents passed young and I barely have any extended family. So Angie certainly fills a void for me in having any elders to relate to and connect with.

But she’s way more than that.

On May 1st (my aforementioned grandmother’s birthday, as fate would have it), Angie will turn 100 years old.

Angie lives by herself and has no real health issues except for recent declining eyesight. Before that, she walked to church every day and taught catechism for decades. She is sharper than most people I know and still has a feisty spirit that I imagine must have been intimidating when she was a younger woman. She’s been through and seen a lot in her near century on this planet. Her brother, whom she worked for and adored, was famous, or should I say, infamous, in his day. On my most recent visit with her last Saturday, the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, she retold us of the time she met the handsome President and how beautiful Jackie was at the inaugural ball!

When asked what her secret is, she says it’s not about the number but about how young you are in spirit. And also, a big key is to be interested in others: “In order to be interesting you have to be interested in other people.” Which totally explains how she is so hip and able to talk not only to me and Michele, but also to Michele’s 13-year-old daughter, Fiona, without skipping a beat!

But to me her greatest “secret” and special sauce is her profound faith; her unrelenting belief in and connection to something bigger than herself, which she calls God, and I call the Universe. To me that is what has given her the fuel and fortitude to be so wise and vital at the 99+ inning of her game. I can only hope to be as amazing and inspiring in the second half of mine.

Looking to improve your game at any level? Gimme a buzz and we’ll get you up to speed and in the right uniform so you can make the most of your times at bat and win the World Series of Life!

(Click here for the original Instagram post to see more pix of Angie, Michele, Fiona and me 😉 Be sure to follow me there for inspirations posts throughout the week!)

Originally published on www.kristinaleonardi.com November 29, 2019

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