A marathon of life, death and aging lessons with Joy in New York City

8C9596764-tdy_joy_johnson_131105-03_blocks_desktop_mediumOn Monday of this week I learned a lesson. I have read about amazing people and have met a few in my time, but Joy was special. I spent this weekend in New York City at a conference and because it was so intense I didn’t get to explore much so Monday morning  I was out walking by 6 a.m. In my wandering I came to the NBC studio and a group of people waiting to see  Al Roker and Matt Lauer from the Today Show. I found myself standing behind a woman with the marathon medal around her neck. We started to talk, her name was Joy Johnson a retired teacher from California and a marathon runner. Joy started running when she was 59 after she retired and now she was 86 years old. It was her 25th New York City marathon. She told me this was her swan song because her time was not as good as she liked. Al came  and they over and they talked  as old friends. Al was concerned about her falling at mile 20. She waved his concern away assuring him that it looked much worse than it was. Her sister Faith and I talked about how they and grew up in Minnesota, had a cabin up north where Joy dried her marathon flower and how everyday Joy started her day with a cup of coffee her Bible and a 8 mile run.  As I left I knew my idea of aging had been changed. Maybe we all have accepted too many self imposed limits. Joy laughed when someone asked how much she ran and she said “Not enough!  I only run 9 days straight and then take a day off ONLY about 50 or 60 miles a week.”  Joy was named correctly she was joy but she was also love. As runners came up to her and seemed to want her blessing, I watched as she graciously smiled and had a word of kindness. I wonder if we didn’t put a limit on our life would our life look like?  Joy died hours after I met her, her head injury was serious. Joy’s lesson to me and all of us is to really live  a life without limits, filled with kindness . We are all going to die, but she died doing what she loved, being loved, being a model for all of us. I  hope I will remember that lesson. I know I will remember Joy Johnson.

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