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Bob Lind column: Sage advice dispensed in new book

God gave you brains," Lois Baasch tells you. Therefore, she says, "Learn and observe and benefit from others' mistakes as well as your own -- and don't ever, ever try to fry your brains by using alcohol and drugs!"...

God gave you brains," Lois Baasch tells you. Therefore, she says, "Learn and observe and benefit from others' mistakes as well as your own -- and don't ever, ever try to fry your brains by using alcohol and drugs!"

That wise advice comes from a woman who is one of the "stars" in a book published recently "Advice for Life from the Mouths of Elders."

The book contains dozens upon dozens of thoughts of senior citizens on a number of topics.

The people quoted are from all over the United States. Two of them are from North Dakota, and specifically, Riverview Place, a retirement home in Fargo. Lois is one of them. The other is Elbe Sexton. Both are in their 80s.

Elbe's advice on living a long life? "Not smoking or drinking. Time for pleasures. Exercise, both physical and mental. Control of weight through proper diet. Trying to find the humor in everything. Control worry."

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The book was written by Mark Miller, of Houston, a health-care administrator and elder rights advocate. Mark mailed or e-mailed randomly selected retirement facilities in all 50 states last year, using the Internet as his research tool. He asked the staffs to identify one or two residents "who have healthy attitudes toward life."

The only responses he received from Fargo were from these two residents of Riverview Place, where the activity director had seen the e-mail and forwarded it to Lois and Elbe, thinking they fit the bill.

Both filled out and sent back questionnaires. "I kind of forgot about it," Elbe says. Until the book came out, that is, because there he and Lois were, quoted throughout.

Lois and her husband farmed at Page, N.D., until they retired 30 years ago. Elbe was a Fargo banker, at the Fargo National Bank and the First National Bank.

Neighbors won't give all their quotes and spoil the book for you, but here's some questions Mark asked and how Elbe and Lois responded.

Question: What was the best advice you received from your parents or grandparents?

Elbe: Do the best you can. Be willing to help others. Be truthful. Be happy with what you have.

Lois: Don't let your friends influence you against your better judgment.

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Question: If you could teach a few lessons or give advice to younger generations, what would you teach or offer?

Elbe: Have respect for others, regardless of who they are. Always do your best. Respect nature, other people's property and rights. Remember and practice the Golden Rule.

Question: What is your fondest memory?

Lois: I grew up believing myself to be forever fat. It was a joy to find, at age 50, that I had some control over that problem. Each of my children was, and is, a real joy. Discovering that Christ was real when I was 40 has to be the best memory of all.

Elbe: Traveling with family. It brought and kept us very close together.

Question: How has your relationship with God contributed to your life?

Lois: (My relationship with God) removed guilt -- enabled me to reach out to family and friends. How can anyone describe what a difference God has made in his life? He made life worth living -- each day exciting, instead of boring!

Elbe: My relationship with God is the very center of what my life is all about. I am grateful that this was learned at an early age. All of us make mistakes, and God is always there to forgive.

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Minnesota is represented in the book by people living in Minneapolis. An example of their observations:

Question: What do you think the future holds for younger generations?

Minneapolis woman: I'm hoping people will learn to live in peace, cure diseases and to follow a healthy lifestyle.

As to the best advice she received from her parents, the woman said, "My mother always told me, if you act like a lady, you will be treated like a lady.

Other comments in the book:

From Denver, on what to tell young people: Enjoy your life, but think about the future.

A fond memory from North Platte, Neb.: Holding my firstborn and knowing he was mine.

From Clarinda, Iowa, on what has brought the most joy: The love of my family and friends, and being able to share my joys with them.

Elbe said "A happy marriage" brought him the most joy, along with "being able to spend time with children, grandchildren and a great-grandchild. Being able to provide for family.

Back to the question on what the future holds for younger generations, Elbe says, "There will be periods of greater adjustments in lifestyles, attitudes, personal growth, priorities, behavior, responsibilities and other areas than have ever been made."

Lois says, "The future is wide open for them. During the drought-Depression years, pessimists said there was no future for us -- who can know what God has in store?

The book is available by special order through all major bookstores and online at www.universe.com . Cost: $11.95 plus $2 per book for shipping.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, N.D. 58107; fax it to 241-5487; or e-mail rlind@forumcomm.com

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