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Happy 97th Birthday, Daro

December 7th, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

My grandmother’s name is Helen Abicht, but we all call her “Daro.” Today is her 97th birthday!

She and my grandfather helped take care of my sister and I when we were growing up. I feel so lucky to have lived close to them and had them as a constant, steady presence in my life for so long. Daro grew up during the Depression, and we always had so much fun with her without spending any money at all. She knows something that a lot of parents today don’t: it doesn’t take money or electronics to have a good time. Making ice cream, painting a picture and writing a story with someone you love is the deepest, best kind of fun you can have.

She’s full of all kinds of wisdom — and doesn’t think much of people who get bored easily.

I visited her in her apartment over the Thanksgiving holiday and asked her to share her secret for having such a long and happy life. Here’s her answer:

I think the real secret of Daro’s happiness is this: for her, life isn’t about getting the stuff she wants. It’s about being happy with what she has. She lost her husband (Pop-Pop, my grandpa) a few years ago and has since had to move into a retirement community. She couldn’t be happier there. She gives devotionals in the community church about how to be happy with your life and accept all kinds of change as part of being alive. I’ve never known anyone who was as happy to be alive as she is.

Here’s Daro holding up a list of some of her favorite sayings, which she winds into her speeches:

Daro and her mini-sermons

Every time I talk to her, I think about how much the world has changed — and how she’s managed to keep up while staying flexible, open-hearted and loving. I don’t know if I’ll make it as long as she has, but I hope I can enjoy what I’ve got as much as she does.

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