We lost a great American this week — Roberta McCain, wife of a four-star admiral and mother of a senator, died October 12 at age 108. 108! When you think about it, she was in diapers as World War I was erupting, and lived until last week, hard to fathom. She grew up as the daughter of a rich oil entrepreneur, who raised his kids as a stay-at-home dad, unheard of at that time. They traveled the world extensively, and she could have easily lived fancy-free as a debutante or social butterfly.
But it was not her nature – as rebellious as her “maverick” son turned out to be, she eloped with John McCain Jr. who went on to distinguish himself as a Navy hero, rising to the highest ranks of the military. She was a dominant force in the Navy Wives Club, spearheading charity for the underprivileged and working tirelessly for those whose lives were disrupted by war.
But her feistiness and character shone through whatever she did – when her son was released after over five years of torture in North Viet Nam, he defiantly shouted profanities at his captors, and her response was, “Johnny, I’m going to come over there and wash your mouth out with soap.”
Senator John S. McCain III described her this way: “My mother was raised to be a strong, determined woman who thoroughly enjoyed life, and always tried to make the most of her opportunities. She was encouraged to accept, graciously and with good humor, the responsibilities and sacrifices her choices required of her. I am grateful to her for the strengths she taught me by example.”
Most of us remember her vigorously campaigning at age 96 during her son’s 2008 presidential campaign, and her tight-lipped expression sitting in the front row at his funeral, gripping his widow Cindy’s hand in mourning, never anticipating that he might go before she did.
Yet, she was never morose, always upbeat, if fiercely independent – in fact, when Vogue Magazine asked her in her 90’s why she was such a role model of longevity, good health and overall fearlessness, she responded “I don’t do anything I’m supposed to do. I don’t exercise, and today I’ve already eaten half a box of caramel popcorn…I’ve had a dream life, and it was all luck.”
But it wasn’t all luck. Our outlook is a prime determining factor for the quality of life we experience. Even when she was impaired after a mild stroke following her 100th birthday party, she was asked the same question by Cindy McCain, why has she had such a long productive life, and in a moment of introspection and rare vulnerability, she blurted out, “I just love living.”
So there it is, in a nutshell. Some of us get to inhabit this planet for a century or more, while others may have a shorter time to live, love, laugh and learn, and why it works out that way is well above my pay grade to explain. But in those four words, we find the formula for a full, rewarding life. We never know what fate has in store for us, but we can fulfill our destinies as if we live in a friendly universe, or not – that will always be up to us to decide.
And at this time of great upheaval, where we and many of our loved ones face jeopardy from an unseen foe, we can still bring our very best to everything we do, hunting for the clues success leaves for us, tapping into the spirit and the legacy of Roberta McCain. She just loved living.
Dennis Perman DC, for The Masters Circle Global
PS In the coming weeks, we’ll be announcing the premier educational and informational event of the year, to engage you and your team to lift you up at this unusual time where live seminars are ill-advised. With the current technology, you can participate from the comfort of your own home or office – no traveling, no hotels, no unnecessary exposure, just great speakers and ideas, teaching you how to build your practice so you can help more people and make more money. Watch this space!