This octogenarian has a great outlook on life — article by Scott Keith
Posted Oct 25 2010 4:29pm
If you’re a baby boomer, do you think you’re past your prime? Are your best years behind you? If your answer is yes, you may need a swift kick to your behind. And a man who could administer that good kicking is 85-year-old Al Weatherhead.
Weatherhead is CEO of Weatherchem, a private firm that makes plastic closures for food, spice, pharmaceutical and nutriceutical products. Weatherhead has also written, along with Fred Feldman, a popular book: The Power of Adversity: Tough Times Can Make You Stronger, Wiser, and Better. Don’t think it has been an easy road for Weatherhead. He knows adversity and has battled back. Weatherhead has suffered from depression, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease and alcoholism. These days, Weatherhead still goes to the office. More importantly, he stills finds time to help those who are struggling with life’s challenges.
In an interview with Men and Health, It’s a Guy Thing, Weatherhead, a philanthropist, business leader and World War II veteran, says adversity can provide you with enormous opportunity. Weatherhead looks back nearly 3 years ago when he fractured a lumbar vertebra. “The vertebra was squashed down to a pancake and I had a seven-hour operation,” recalls Weatherhead. After struggling to take care of himself after the operation, Weatherhead says his neurosurgeon told him, “Al, go in the swimming pool and swim, swim, swim, then you should go to the office every day for a couple of hours. That’s the way you recover.” Weatherhead is happy he took the advice. “Now I go around and it’s a miracle. I say, ‘holy smokes, how lucky I am.’”
Positive thinking is key. Many of us wonder how we can stay upbeat. Weatherhead says it’s terrible if our only thought, upon waking up, is how we can get through the whole day. He has a different, and more uplifting, take: “Wake up, put a smile on your face and say, ‘oh what a happy day. I’ve been given a gift by the good Lord to have another day. I’m going to do as I wish with it. It’s a present. I don’t have to get through the day.’”
Weatherhead recently completed a ten-year plan for himself. He says, while you can’t forecast the future, you can get a pen and pencil and jot down some personal goals. “Well, I’d like to do this, I’d like to try that, I’d like to be in such and such a place, I’d like to paddle a canoe down the Columbia River.’” Weatherhead says you can make a ten-year or a daily plan.
These days, Weatherhead remains active. He exercises, writes, and helps universities and medical facilities. He is also the father of three grown children.
Recent statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau show that 6.2 million Americans, ages 65 and older, were either working or actively seeking work. This news is hardly surprising to Weatherhead. “You’re just as old as you think you are.”