CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami) — Getting older is inevitable, but growing old is optional.
People have been obsessed with the idea of staying young for ages and Florida even has the Fountain of Youth. However, a South Florida couple does not need the magical waters of the Fountain of Youth, they have each other to lean on, to get older with, but not grow older.
Victor Esterlitz, who is 94-years-old and stunning Lea Swetloff, 91, are best buddies who lean on each while dodging old age.
“I am 91,” Lea Swetloff told CBS4’s Marybel Rodriguez. She says her secret to staying young, is in her head. “I think I do it up here. If you can’t do it up here, then you can’t do it. You’ve got to think young but I think it’s attitude.”
Lea has plenty of attitude, and for both her and Victor, age is only a number.
“I certainly don’t feel 94,” said Victor. “I guess I would feel about 20 years less than I am actually. I feel 74, I really do.”
Lea and Victor meet several years ago where they both live at the Palace in Coral Gables and it is a day they will never forget.
“He’s sitting alone looking down and Pauline and I walked over and with my big old mouth I said ‘Are you depressed?’ I remember that well.”
Victor recalled answering her question with “no.”
That day was the beginning of a special friendship.
And it truly is a special friendship.
“Yes, platonic all the way. People think he’s my husband because he’s always around. But he is like another girlfriend,” explained Lea.
They travel together, go out together, and make memories together. Victor shares many of his old memories with her about his years in the military, his days in a dance band and his family. Lea shares with Victor her memories of being a fashion model in New York, her love for art and her family.
They were both married for decades. Lea was married for 59 years and Victor for 63.
Both agree that it is nice to have a friendship with someone of the opposite sex to keep each other company.
“It is very important that you can depend upon someone,” said Victor. “I depend on Lea on many things. I ask her advice on clothes now, but we get along great and are together almost every day of the week.”
Even on this day, Lea helped pick his outfit for the interview.
“She did, she said wear a white shirt and your gray sweater and that’s what I’m wearing,” he said with a big smile on his face.
Lea and Victor encourage others their age to try to find that special someone, even platonic like them, because it is that special connection and friendship that this golden duo says keeps them feeling young and full of life.