I don’t know why I have lived so long, but a friend who is writing a book on natural health wrote to me recently: “Words cannot describe how overjoyed I was to receive your card and letter, and to know that you are well… I recall how very energetic and vital you were whenever I saw you years earlier. You certainly have been blessed with an extra special event in your life – to celebrate a 100th birthday – experienced by so very few…. People must ask you your secret to longevity and a clear mind. What do you tell them? Special food? Clean living? Drive and motivation to be always productive and achieving goals? I would be very curious to know your response. It seems to me that people who survive to their late 90s or beyond, are those who are very busy with meaningful projects. Or is it something more? What do you think? And may I inquire about your health, Msgr. Foy? In a letter a couple of years ago you mentioned being wheelchair bound. Are you out of the chair and up and about? Obviously you are blessed with a clear mind: you are still writing. How wonderful! I am delighted for you…”
As far as I know, I am the oldest diocesan priest ever and with the longest years of ordination in the history of the Archdiocese of Toronto (and possibly in Canada).
I had and have a lot of health problems. A few years ago, after a battery of tests requested by a physician who specializes in internal medicine, I was diagnosed as having “a serious heart condition” – but now I am told by another physician that a recent test shows that my heart is now perfectly normal and so I do not have that problem anymore. How can that be explained?
I have continued to try to stay alive and live well over the age 100, but with all sorts of ailments (in a wheelchair, colostomy, legally blind, partial deafness, hypothyroidism, prostate surgery, episodes of chocking, arthritis, kidney and liver problems, a collapsed lung etc.).
It’s ironic that also at this time in Canada the Liberal government and pro-death organizations are fighting to have people legally murdered by physicians through “assisted-suicide”. Euthanasia is morally wrong. Health care providers, physicians and workers should not be forced to cooperate with “assisted-suicide”. Human rights are based on objective moral norms. The right to life should be upheld by law.
Anyway, back to the questions… here are a few thoughts:
The end is near: “Remember man that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
Do God’s Will.
“Clean Living” – avoid sin, frequent the Sacraments.
What saved me in the Seminary was a book in the seminary library called “My Water Cure” which helped me to recover from an illness.
I was not a smoker and all seminarians in my time were required to take a pledge to abstain from alcohol for ten years. We put our hand on the Bible individually in the chapel under the Prefect of Discipline and made the pledge. I basically abstained from alcohol for most of my life.
Studied natural health care remedies for ailments.
I avoided prescription drugs as much as possible.
I remember a book I read: “How to be Always Well” by Dr. Jackson. There was a breakfast food called “Jackson’s Food” which I used to take in the morning. There was little meat in his diet. For a while I was vegetarian and got weaker. I didn’t end up as a vegetarian.
Within the past two decades I read all of Dr. Sherry Roger’s books. I have read hundreds of books on health.
Drive and motivation to fulfil one’s vocation, to be productive and achieve goals.
Healthy Eating, but basically I simply ate what was put before me. When I lived on my own I had more choice.
Exercise: I did a lot of walking. When I was young, I used to go to daily Mass, which was a good walk in itself. On Sundays as an Altar boy, we all had to attend the 11am Mass, whether we served or not and had a Procession of Altar Boys. We had to fast from midnight. I used to go to the 8am Mass fasting, walked home and had breakfast and then walked back to attend the 11am Mass. Mental toughness – I had active jobs like I used to deliver the paper weekly over a 5 mile area when I was a child. I walked home from High School each day – that was about five miles. Later, I used to work at the desk during the day. For years I did push-ups every morning (up to 300). In the summer time, I sometimes walked from the East end of Toronto to the Exhibition and back (four hours or more of walking). On Sundays in the summer I sometimes walked from Scarborough to High Park and back. I used to take a long walk every day before supper for twenty-five years. A man told me he could set his clock by the time I passed by his door. Long walkers are sometimes long livers.
Have a balanced Life.
Work and Prayer – Divine Office, Mass.
Keep the mind active – did a lot of reading and studying.
Social – family, friends
Supplements – as I got older, I began taking more vitamins, minerals etc. to keep up with aging and various health issues.
The head physician of the intensive care unit at a hospital where I was on life support in 2009 and had five surgeries in one month, gave a comment about recovery from serious illness: “about 50% is based on heredity, 50% is based on a person’s will to live”.
In my nineties, I got a tracheotomy for breathing and a feeding tube in my stomach that were both later reversed. After six months in the hospital, on Christmas Day I began to be able to drink and eat again on my own; after I had, at one point, been told by a swallowing specialist that there was no hope of that happening. However, I kept praying that I would recover and asked for more testing to be done, and in God’s time, food and water started going down successfully like Haley’s Comet. I gave the swallowing specialist a postcard of the original St. John’s Church, my natal parish – someone had written on the back of it: “Last night I saw Haley’s Comet”.
I am near the end, that’s for sure.
God bless you,
Msgr. Vincent Foy, Age 100 years and over six months, Ordained for 76 years and over eight months, February 18, 2016