The Brewer’s Father

by Renee on January 24, 2011

I was saddened to hear the news that fitness guru Jack LaLanne died yesterday at the age of 96, from respiratory failure caused by pneumonia. He had a television show that ran from the late 50s for three decades—touting the benefits of healthful eating, and working out. In more recent years, he was recognizable to many from his juicing commercials on late-night TV.

Now as much as I admired Jack LaLanne, and his secrets to longevity, I really admire another 96-year-old for his approach to life: my grandfather, John McAuliffe. Pasee, as he’s known within the family, lives with his feline companion, Princess, in a beautiful assisted living facility where he leads an active social life as one of the few “Men of a Certain Age” in the residence. 

 When I found the McAuliffe clan nearly ten years ago, one of my great joys was discovering that Jack’s parents, Pasee and Masee, were both still alive. (Masee died shortly after I was reunited with Jack and family–I was so glad I got the chance to meet her before she passed. We had a wonderful Irish wake in her memory.) Over the years, Pasee has completely endeared himself to me with weekly letters full of jokes and cartoons; even the occasional email—yes, he’s a net-savvy senior.

 John McAuliffe’s career as a member of the Office of Strategic Services or OSS (a predecessor to today’s CIA) took him abroad, mainly to South America (where several of his children, including Jack, were born). He spoke more than five languages, many of which he is still fluent in today. Loving the influence of Hispanic culture, Pasee decided to retire in San Antonio, Texas, where I’ve visited him on a number of occasions, including his 90th and 95th birthday parties.

 So what does Pasee do to stay as mentally sharp and physically healthful as he can? He abides by a few puffs on his pipe each day, as well as a well-made Manhattan at happy hour. (When Pasee visited me in Ohio several years ago, I made sure I had all the fixins for his favorite cocktail.) Pasee is the hit of the place whenever he sits down at the piano in his residence, as he continues to make wonderful music cheering everyone around him. He keeps busy by reading, and writing to his long list of correspondents.

One of my favorite letters from Pasee included a little something to pass along to my husband, Paul. Paul is an aficionado of motorcycles, and knowing this, Pasee included a photo of a nice Harley Davidson, accompanied by an attractive bikini model. His note to Paul read, “Hope you enjoy this, I’m too old to ride one of these any more.”

Pasee’s sense of humor is something he passed along to Jack, and somehow I hope it found its way to me as well. He will turn 97 on March 6th, and I truly believe if anyone in this world is going to make it to 100, it’s Pasee. I’ll be turning 50 that very same year, and I’m hoping to celebrate a combined 150 years with him at a big bash. I’ll be more than glad to fix him his happy hour Manhattan, and raise a toast to the Brewer’s Father.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Cathy McAuliffe-Dickerson January 24, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Great post!!!! (His birthday is actually March 6, but we can celebrate ALL month, starting on March 1). P.S. Masee would have been 95 years old tomorrow.

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Renee January 24, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Oops–I knew that! It’s my birthday that’s the 7th 🙂 Awww, wish Masee would have made it to 95.

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