Now that’s it’s finally all said and done, Will Moser has been feeling fulfilled and at peace.
We’re not talking about his goal of swimming 10,000 miles, which he recently achieved after daily increments at the Racine Family YMCA starting when he was 36 in the fall of 1970.
We’re talking about his beloved Chicago Cubs making that place down below freeze 100 times over by winning the World Series two years ago.
That’s something this lifelong Cubs fan still can’t believe. Moser, 84, knew he would eventually swim 10,000 miles even as the medical issues that come with age mounted. But he could only stay cautiously optimistic that the Cubs would eventually end a drought that started when Ford Model T’s where chugging down brick streets.
“I thought I would reach 10,000, but I’ll tell you, the last 1,000 has been the toughest,” he said. “It’s taken me about six years to do it. But I thought eventually in my lifetime, the Cubs would at least get into the World Series.”
They did so much better than that, overcoming a 3-1 deficit in games to the Cleveland Indians and hoisting their first World Series championship flag since 1908 on Nov. 2, 2016.
They have since been a perennial force, which is something Moser continues to be in life. The prostate cancer he has had since 2011 remains in remission. A sciatic nerve issue has given him problems with his right leg. Pain from his torn left rotator cuff has finally been relieved by a cortisone injection.
But Moser keeps at it, even when the last thing he wants to do is drive over to the YMCA on a cold winter day, jump into a pool and push himself through swims ranging from 1,800 yards to 450 yards, depending on how he feels.
That’s what he started doing in the fall of 1970, when daughters Heather and Heidi, were respectively 8 and 5 years old. And that’s what he continues to do now, even after those two daughters have made him a grandfather three times over.
“I just think a person should stay active both mentally and physically and set goals,” said Moser, who retired as a tax executive at S.C. Johnson in 1997. I set a goal and have a mindset of what I hope to accomplish that day.
“Some days, I don’t feel good about doing it, but I’ve never regretted doing it. I always feel better when I swim. You feel energized, I guess.”
The miles became more difficult as the years passed. His total, which he meticulously tracks in log books, was 7,456 in April 2004. He has since coaxed another 2,644 from his weary body, bringing his career total to 10,100.
What does he have in mind after finally reaching that goal?
“It would be doubtful, but I would like to make it to 11,000,” he said.
Kati Rognsvoog, aquatics director at the YMCA. rues the day when she no longer sees him gearing up for another swim. His blue swim cap is so familiar. So are his pair of goggles. But what appeals to Rognsvoog more than anything is the gentleman Moser is.
“Will is always very kind,” she said. “He always encourages anyone who comes to the pool. And as soon as he notices kids are there (for lessons), he just moves over a lane. He’s so sweet.”
But that’s just what Will Moser is all about. He has been leading a bible study in the Racine County Jail for 32 years and has made numerous connections with prisoners. Some have sent him letters, thanking him for his insight into a better life.
And Moser is simply a satisfied and happy man, despite his aches and pains. Just as he pushed himself with all those miles of swimming, he has sold himself on being happy as he goes through life with Karen, his wife of more than 60 years.
I asked him to list his secrets to a long and happy life and this is what he offered:
Wake up each day looking forward to doing something you’re passionate about.
Have a deep faith in the Lord and live out that faith.
Keep physically active,
Have a good sense of humor.
Have a happy family.
Let’s go over that list. He has a happy family. He’s had to have a good sense of humor to have followed the Cubs all those lean years. He certainly keeps physically active. His spiritual faith is unquestioned.
And he wakes up every morning wanting to tackle another day with gusto, even with the odometer of his life well up there in miles.
Maybe that’s something a lot of us could learn from this gentleman.
Peter Jackel is a reporter for The Journal Times. You can reach Peter by calling 262-631-1703 or by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org