Young at Heart | Teen Ink

Young at Heart

August 31, 2008
By Anonymous

"I made it."

Those were the first words 67-year-old Richard Jordan uttered after undergoing serious heart surgery.
Now, just three months later he is back in his martial arts class healthier than ever.

Jordan has lived a life of dedication, and determination, and has had "one heck of a good time."
He has had his share of setbacks and troubles, but they have only made him stronger.

At 11, he was diagnosed with polio and was never expected to walk again, but he did. There is no reason for his miraculous recovery, but exercise played a key role. This was the first incident that proved his strength. Nothing could stop him.

At 18, he joined the Air Force, serving for four years. This is where martial arts came into play. He trained in military combat and loved every minute of it.

At 20, Jordan met his wife in the service, and they married three months later. Together, they had two sons,one of whom served in Iraq,and has just recently come home. It was a trying time for the family, but they were relieved and grateful to have him home.

Jordan's wife worked as a nurse at St. Joseph's Hospital in Burbank, Calif. for 17 years, while attending school for a short time. Jordan refers to her as a "very smart person."

"She's a lot smarter than I am," said Jordan. Humility is another one of his characteristics.

His wife early retired this year at 62, while he retired from commercial industrial air conditioning two years ago at 65. But the man of action couldn't sit still for long, so he decided to take up martial arts again. He trained a few days a week in American Freestyle Karate, Muay Thai kickboxing, and Ju Jitsu.

His classmate Kevin P. said, "I ultimately have the utmost respect for him...I am amazed at the fact that he does all those things at his age."

Amazing indeed. He was in great shape, outdoing the kids. The white-haired man in his 60s said, "I don't even come close to feeling it." That's why finding out he had a bad heart valve which would need to be replaced came as a huge shock to him, and everyone who knew him.

He wouldn't have known about his condition if he hadn't been kicked in the ribs in Ju Jitsu class. After seeing the doctor, and seven tests later, he found out a virus had attacked the aorta heart valve and he would need surgery.

Since the situation was so severe, the docter wondered how he was even getting around at home. Jordan told him about his martial arts training, and doctor again asked if had trouble breathing, or if it was difficult for him. Jordan spoke of no such things. "Matter of fact, I enjoy it. I want to do some more."

This baffled the doctor, but the test results were correct, and he would have to undergo serious heart surgery.

Jordan being the straightfoward fellow that he is, hoped for the best, but expected the worst. He said he didn't think he was going to make it, not out of fear, but out of honesty. He felt that if it was his time, it was his time.

But after 10 1/2 hours of surgery, and one day in intensive care, he opened his eyes, caught a glimpse of the nurse, and smiled when he realized he had lived through it. The first thought he had waking up was "more time."

He said, "Life goes by quick; I wish I could start all over again." He had always lived by the motto, "Don't treat life like you're coming back...because you're not," which is evident in all of his feats and things he can do at his age.

The concept of personal challenge has also been important to him. It didn't matter if he was the strongest or the fastest, it just mattered that he got better each time. His own personal mantra is: "Always try to improve yourself, have better thoughts than you did yesterday."

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