Fit for Life: A Tribute to the Greatest Generation

Saturday, January 12, 2019
Matt Espeut, GoLocalWorcester Health +Lifestyle Contributor

On January 2, 2019, I said farewell to a great man I once had the pleasure of working with many years ago. He was the father of one of my best friends, and he passed after a fulfilling 88 years of life.

He was, in my opinion, one of the last few survivors of the “greatest generation.”

My buddy read the eulogy and throughout it he pointed out how his dad truly cared about people.

He lived by 3 very noble values, Friendship, Family, and Faith.

Whether you cashed him out when he ordered takeout at his favorite restaurant, cleaned his pool or were a business associate, he treated everyone the same by taking genuine interest in what they had to say about what was going on in their lives.

Although sincere, he was a tough no-nonsense guy with a high set of standards that were rigid and had merit.

My friend told me a story about when he got a lifeguard job. He came home and excitedly told his dad, but before he finished, his dad said “you’re not taking the job. Go get a real job and work construction for the summer” You’re not hanging by the pool taking up space all summer long.

He felt that this would build structure and character, and I agree. He wasn’t allowing his son to take the easy way out, which proved effective because now my friend is a very successful guy.

Another outstanding character trait was that the guy was never late for anything in his life. Let me repeat that. He was never late for anything his entire life. Talk about respect for someone’s time.

Whenever he had an appointment, or a meeting, he knew exactly where he was going, and how much time to allow for travel. He never had to make an excuse for being late, and as far as his workouts with me, he never missed.

A very well structured, respected and disciplined man, who’s memory will carry on forever.

Ironically, I was watching a movie called the Intern, starring Robert DeNiro, the same week as his service, and the character DeNiro played reminded me a lot of his dad and his characteristics.

DeNiro was a successful businessman that was retired and widowed, applying for a “senior” intern job in a fast-paced millennial company.

He got the job and was the owner of the company’s right-hand man.

It showed him getting ready for his first day of work by laying out his clothes, setting two alarm clocks and getting to bed on time.

When he arrived at work early, wearing a suit, he was ready to start the day. Through the movie he overdelivers and does everything above and beyond what was expected of him.

There is even a scene where he is schooling another millennium coworker on how to dress to impress a client (presumably Jay Z) and how to be a gentleman around women.

In another scene, it shows how neat and organized his apartment is, with his suits all lined up and his bed is meticulously made.

I am writing this article with these two gentlemen being the topic because I feel the way they lived and conducted their lives is a lost art.

Our society is becoming more of an entitlement / me first movement and although I am all for change and growth, I feel some things shouldn’t change.

Throughout the movie, it shows the contrast in the lives of people of this generation and what was called the greatest generation. A generation where people rallied together and united as a nation. A generation of structure and discipline.

Today many people live hectic disorganized lives, and barely allow themselves the time to take care of themselves. It’s a generation of “shortcuts and good enough” and doing the bare minimum to just get by.

People show up late for job interviews and many expect rewards for mediocrity. It’s more of a “what’s in it for me” rather than “what can I do for you” time that we live in.

In one scene in the movie, a kid asks DeNiro, “what’s with the handkerchief” so he replies, “it’s to lend when a woman cries”. Then he goes on to explain that in his world chivalry isn’t dead.

In conclusion, we should take notes and study how previous generations once lived.

Work ethic, respect, strong core values and pride in everything we do will not only benefit you but create a favorable environment for everyone.

Yes, we need to make changes to keep up with this fast-paced world, or we will be left behind however, being prepared, showing up on time, opening a car door for a woman and over delivering at work will never be the wrong things to do.

Maybe forgotten in time, but never the wrong thing to do.

Committed to your success

Matt Espeut, GoLocal's Health & Lifestyle Contributor has been a personal trainer and health & fitnesss consultant for over 25 years. He is the owner of Fitness Profiles, a one on one, and small group personal training company, as well as Providence Fit Body Boot Camp, located at 1284 North Main St., on the Providence/Pawtucket line. You can reach Matt at (401) 453-3200; on Facebook at "Matt Espeut", and on Twitter at @MattEspeut. "We’re all in this life together – let’s make it a healthy one.

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