of a Centenarian
By all accounts, Lily Hearst is a
remarkable woman. She was born in Vienna in 1897 and lived there
until 1938, when she and her husband and children immigrated to
the United States. As a young girl, Lily learned to ski and rock
climb and would swim across the Danube River just for the challenge
All her life,
Lily has pursued a wide range of interests, including the arts,
music, science, and politics. She has a degree in music and reads
and speaks three languages. Now, at 101 years old, she lives independently
and still exercises every day. Her sight and hearing are excellent
and she walks with a cane only because she was hit by a car when
she was eighty-five (which, to her regret, ended her skiing career).
She reads The Wall Street Journal daily, teaches piano, and
plays in a classical trio at the North Berkeley Senior Center.
Hearst remembers Sigmond Freud and William Reich. Lily and her
husband went through psychoanalysis in Vienna in the 1920s.
Reich was the analyst of Lil's husband.
is excellent and quite vivid. She remembers scenes from her childhood
as if they occurred yesterday and loves to tell the story about
spying on the great composer Gustav Mahler from her family's summer
home. She also recalls seeing fabled cellist Pablo Casals perform
in Vienna. "He played with his eyes closed," she remembers.
As a healthy centenarian, Lily is rare. Her parents
lived into their eighties; her sister, until she was ninety-eight.
Obviously, Lily and her sister inherited a genetic predisposition
for good health and longevity. Throughout her life, Lily has also
remained active, both physically and mentally.
Lily keeps a
strict daily routine that begins at seven o'clock, when she gets
out of bed, exercises, and fixes her own breakfast. At nine she
goes to the pool and swims eight laps. After her shower, a friend
drives her to the senior center where she attends classes, reads,
watches movies, and plays piano. Lily keeps track of her life with
a date book, writing down engagements and other things she needs
to remember. She takes pride in the fact that she's organized and
never late for an appointment. "With a little effort,"
Lily says, "you can be perfect."
Hearst describes her daily and weekly routine. She does yoga
and swimming every morning. She gives piano lessons on Thursdays.
Her active life style has contributed to her longevity.