“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did.”
When Mark Twain penned that more than 150 years ago, he may not have had Mary Lou Griffin in mind, but she would certainly agree.
Living a life filled with dreams and discoveries, this 83-year-old Olathe resident seizes every day.
Instead of enjoying brunch on Mother’s Day, like so many moms, Griffin decided to try skydiving.
Sunday’s inaugural skydive, a gift from her son, was just one on a growing list of Griffin’s daring adventures.
During the past five years, she has paraglided in Hawaii, ziplined in Cozumel, and crossed a swinging bridge in Dogwood Canyon.
For Griffin, Sunday’s freefall out of a plane topped the list as the most frightening.
“The skydive was pretty scary. I’m happy I did it, but I’m glad it’s over and I’ll probably never do it again,” she said.
Griffin’s passion to embrace an exhilarating, bold life started five years ago, after a life-changing moment.
“I talked to my sister, Geraldine, on a Sunday night and Monday morning she passed away,” Griffin said. “It made me think I could be gone and not have done everything I wanted to do.
“I thought I better start figuring out what I was going to do with the rest of my life to fulfill my dreams and enjoy myself.”
While forging this new life during the past several years, Griffin’s son, Dale, has been alongside encouraging and supporting her.
“It’s been fantastic watching my mom,” he said. “When my dad was alive, she wasn’t like this at all. After he died, she went through a time trying to find herself. When she came out, she realized she had a whole lot of life to live.
“I believe in it, too: Live while you’re alive. People say ‘no’ without knowing why.”
Conquering fears in order to say “yes” is one of many challenges Griffin has encountered on the journey to see her dreams come true.
In addition to long-term health struggles with diabetes, Griffin has also faced heart issues, skin cancer and arthritis during the past five years.
Having overcome obstacles on the road to a happier life, Griffin now wants to share her experiences with others.
“Part of my motivation is to inspire people to keep active and live life as much as they can. I know everyone can’t jump out of a plane, but maybe they can take a walk or do other things to keep active and enjoy life.”
For 2019, she’s eying a trip to the Willis Tower glass skydeck in Chicago.
“I’m just doing all kinds of things now I didn’t expect I’d be doing,” she said. “When I was 70, I thought, ‘Well I’ve got 20 more years.’ Now that I’m 83, I’ve still got 20 more years.”