Oxygen tanks, wheelchairs, and stories of chemo treatments. No, it isn’t a hospital waiting room. It was my family reunion, and health and longevity were on my mind.
My paternal grandmother (also known as the voice of God in my life) comes from a large German family and she and her remaining siblings are among the kindest, funniest, hardest working people I’ve ever had the privilege to know. It’s impossible to sit down with any one of them and not enjoy yourself.
That truth runs down multiple generations. The dreamy blue eyes, rich, broad smiles, and a genuine interest in whomever you are talking to are all family traits. I count myself privileged to come from such stock.
It’s another one of the family traits that comes to mind right now… longevity. Every side of my family has a tendency to hang around for quite a while. 70’s is routine, 80’s almost expected, and 90’s are not uncommon. The trick isn’t to live that long, it’s to live that long and be healthy.
The idea of mortality was very real for this reunion because my grandma’s brother Kenny had died within the previous two weeks from an aggressive cancer. As I looked around the room of four, no, five generations… I couldn’t help but think about the potential future of everyone in the room.
Would the oxygen tanks on a few convince the smokers to stop or the rest of us to pamper our lungs?
How about the open-heart surgery survivors providing the motivation to exercise?
Maybe the debilitated diabetics could help us understand the need for nutrition…
I’ve not been the picture of health myself… too much weight, not enough exercise, too many cookies… but that has all begun to change. Not in a way that will put me on the cover of a magazine or help land an underwear modeling contract, but that will build habits for the rest of my life.
My grandma has fought and beat cancer already and stayed incredibly active moving into her 80’s. Her oldest brother Walt runs a 5K every year in Alaska and might outlive us all. The trick isn’t getting old… it’s the quality of your life as you get there. Yes, it’s a mindset.
According to genealogy, I probably have more years left than I’ve lived so far. What will I do to make sure those are filled with life and energy? How will I be more productive then than now? More importantly…what about you?
Being a loving, genuine person is a gift to everyone around you if you have the health to make it matter.
Be your best (for as long as you can),