Meet Later Dad: Jay Kordich
NAME: Jay Kordich
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Married
RESIDENCE: Bellingham, WA
CHILDREN’S NAMES/AGE: John Kordich, 29 years old and Jayson Kordich, 27 years old
At the age of 25 and a competitive athlete, I was diagnosed with bladder cancer and told I may not have long to live. I went to see Dr. Max Gerson who was treating terminally ill with fresh raw juices and cleansing diets. I began a regimen of large doses of raw carrot/apple juice. My health was restored (without any conventional treatment), and the direction of my life was forever changed, both personally and professionally. For the next four decades, I ventured far and wide to share my wisdom and personal experience and became the foremost expert on juicing.
In 1990, I appeared on my first, national infomercial with much success, and I became a New York Times best-selling author, speaker and lecturer.
In 2005, my wife Linda and I co-wrote our latest book, Live Foods Live Bodies. Today at age 90, I am healthy and active and feel like a much younger man. My current endeavor is introducing the ultimate in juicing power: the Jay Kordich PowerGrind Pro Longevity Hybrid Juicer and the Jay Kordich PowerGrind Pro Vitality Hybrid Juicer.
You were 62 years old when you became a father….what did it feel like? Did you know others who were also “later” dads? Yes, I was 62 years old when my son John was born in 1984. That was such a remarkable moment for me. I felt like I wasn’t just watching a new life begin – I also saw in my son’s eyes that a new life was stirring within me. I had basically been a vagabond for most of my adult life, and had been unmarried for much of that time. When I met my wife Linda in early 1981, I knew right away she was going to be my wife. She must have felt the same because we married in Mexico within 24 hours of our first “Hello” (laughs). Linda and I knew that we had a mission and purpose in life far greater than ourselves. And when I looked upon the face of our first of two children together, I felt absolutely blessed by the greatest gift God could give anyone. It was the gift of life, and the chance at a new beginning. Every day brings us one; you know . . . every time the sun rises, that’s another beginning just waiting for us.
Your wife is considerably younger than you…..how was it being a “later” dad with a younger wife? I have never looked at age as a detriment, an obstacle, or even a deterrent in my life — no matter what age I am. I was already 57 years old when I met Linda. And at that time, I was the racquetball champion for men 55 and older at my gym and was working at least 60 hours a week. But I didn’t consider it to be work at all, since I was in superior health and was embracing my life’s passion. The first time I saw Linda just over 32 years ago, I knew I had met my soul mate. So being a “later” dad with a younger wife has no meaning for me whatsoever. Our love, and the love with which we raised our children, remains timeless and has never gotten old. And our shared commitment to a vital and healthy life means that she and I have always lived entirely on the same wavelength . . . and at the same energy level.
If you were to become a “later” father in this day ‘n age, do you think the experience would be different than it was for you and other later fathers when you first became a parent? No, I don’t think it would be different at all. And remember, I don’t regard myself as a “late” father at all. I believe that I truly became a father at precisely the right time for me, and that was when Linda came into my life and we had our two sons together.
What do you see as the positives and challenges of having a child at age 35 or over? The positives are that I was in harmony with life when I became a father at age 62, which meant that my vast understanding and experiences in life were now going to be something I could pass along to our children. You have to be ready to share your existence when you become a father – and that extends to being a husband, as well. Being older than some of the other dads at my sons’ schools often just meant that more people could recognize my hard-won wisdom. I had lived more of life than many of my fellow dads – that not only brought a certain level of respect my way, but it also meant I would always be sought out for advice or help figuring things out. If you have that kind of energy that you can share because of your age and experience, that’s a tremendous gift and becomes an asset to your role as a parent.
The negatives? Well, I suppose that any caring and decent family man worries as he ages about becoming a burden to his wife and children. I would be a fool if I didn’t recognize this as a hindrance. Now that I am 90 years old and Linda is 58, the differences between us have become more apparent. At the same time, our love only deepens. We have learned to adjust to the differences and the challenges we face together in our life. But when it comes to how a father relates – or doesn’t relate – to his children once he gets to a certain age, remember that being a parent is never easy. No matter how young or old you are, there will always be moments of conflict. Being older means you most likely have the patience and wisdom to sit out the tough times in preparation for the better times. That’s something that every parent, regardless of age, should know: It does get better with time . . . and Linda and I are the same way. We’ve gotten better with time, too…
Has anything about being a father surprised you? If so, what? What do you love the most about it? Being a father at age 62 was a lot of work! I couldn’t believe how much time, effort and patience it took. It was tough on Linda and me both, you know? But remember that I was older and more appreciative of the process and preciousness of life. That’s why I was able to help bring stability and calm to Linda’s daily life as she grew into becoming a new mom for the first time. When we married she was virtually disowned by her family. My own parents were in their late 80s at the time, so we really didn’t have any close relatives to help guide us. We have learned to forgive others who turned away during that time, and we recognized that the struggle only made us stronger. Then two years and two days after our first son John was born, Linda gave birth to our second son, Jayson. Between parenting and spreading the word about juicing, Linda and I both had our hands quite full! [laughs] But it was the amount of learning that Linda and I both underwent in those first parenting years that was quite a surprise, though – especially for me. I have always learned to learn, and perhaps that’s what I love the most about being a father to my sons. I have learned so much from the experience.
What did you most want to teach your sons? What have you learned from them? I taught my children that life is precious. Every day is a new day, no matter how challenging the day before was. When my sons were growing up, I spent most of my free time with them at home. Linda and I prepared our meals together, juiced daily together, and when our children were old enough, we brought them into the kitchen and taught them how to prepare vegan foods and juice successfully.
There is always an important lesson to learn from any challenging day, whether it be a bad grade, or a kid at school giving your child some trouble. I felt that it was best for me to parent with tenderness, but I always made sure our sons understood that they had a responsibility and an accountability in life – not only to others, but to themselves. Fortunately, our children were – and still are – virtuous, hard working, gentle and kind human beings.
I have also learned from my children not to give up on life. Linda and I have been through a lot of challenges in our years together. Even when they were young adolescents, John and Jayson would have insightful thoughts. And they would share those thoughts with us in a way that was supportive and, often, helpful. Sometimes the eyes of a child really will see the truth behind all things. Now our sons are in their 20s, and we remain so proud of their strong embrace of principled behavior and healthy living. Through Linda, we were blessed to bring into this world two healthy, loving and supportive children, who now contribute to society in very important ways.
Do you and Linda have similar parenting styles/ What are her strengths as a mother, and what are yours as a dad? Fortunately, Linda and I had the same understandings about raising children. To be candid, I think that my family all raised each other together at different times and in different ways. We learned how to love each other through being present and “in the moment;” by listening, respecting, and observing each other. And when we had challenges that came up for the family, we all sat at the table and made decisions together.
The most important thing Linda did when the boys were growing up (even from when they were very young) was to employ a system of communication she learned from the famous parenting book called How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. When Linda first moved to apply what she learned from that parenting book, she taught John and Jayson to use words to communicate, rather than fighting. One month into the process, they NEVER ever fought. And to this day, our sons have a very strong bond—not just as brothers, but as dear friends. So as I said, I deferred to Linda’s strong background in education (she was a primary school teacher when I met her) to help guide and teach the children.
I, on the other hand, stood together with my family and always made myself available for support – so that no one in my family ever felt scared or alone. That is really what matters most in a family – everyone needs to know that they are loved and appreciated, but everyone needs to be able to contribute to the family dynamic. It’s how we grow and evolve, and how we stay healthy in body, mind, and in spirit!
What influence, if any, has your own mother or father had in your life and in your parenting? My father was a fisherman for Starkist Tuna. He was hardly ever home because of work, so my mother raised me and my two sisters. My mother was like some sweet and holy god or goddess to me. Even now at age 90, I find it tough to put into words just how precious she was. Gentle, kind, loving, considerate, dedicated and supportive.. My father was a bit of a disciplinarian but it was laced with an undercurrent of kindness. When I was a teen, he told me he never wanted me to be a fisherman. He said, “Use your brain, not your hands, my son.” So they were thrilled to see me succeed in college by me receiving a football scholarship for USC. I honor my mother with all my heart and soul. And I love my father for being a great provider and a guider of my future.
What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a parent, particularly if they’re 35 or older? The first thing I would say, before you become a parent, is to choose who you marry as wisely as possible. You need to be compatible in the ways that you see life; the ways that you react to stress and/or bad times; and how well you communicate with each other. Bringing children into the world takes great thought and planning so that when they do enter the world, their environment is peaceful, loving and supportive so that, as they mature and grow in life, they too can contribute good to the world.
Do you recall anything from your own upbringing that really stuck with you that you’d like to pass on to your children or other parents? Well, my father used to say, “Svaki Dan, Svaki Dan Johnny.” My parents migrated from Vis, an island off of the Croatian coastline. My mother stayed at home and protected, fed and loved us, while my father worked. “Svaki Dan” means “every day.” What he meant by that was that every day is a NEW day. Every day you wake up you have an opportunity to do good, to be better than you were the day before. That’s what we wanted our children to know in life. Linda and I taught this to our sons.
There’s nothing in this world that can make you a better human being than when we dedicate our lives to something greater and larger than ourselves. In many ways, that is the greatest definition of parenthood that I have ever seen. And being a father—whether it’s “Father of Juicing” or father of my two sons—has given me a life with Linda far richer and sweeter than I had once ever thought was possible in this world. The best life is the simplest one. So live simply, eat wholesome foods, get rest when you need, love your family with all your heart . . . and you will grow the richest family you could ever imagine.