“Mrs. Hansen is survived by two children, Tammy and Curtis.”
Mom was 56 when she died from a brain aneurysm. I was 29 when she died. I just turned 50 last month.
Yesterday, I spoke with a woman at the gym. She’s 46, is diabetic, and has seven children – the youngest of which is 8. She has just lost 100 pounds and probably has another 50 to go before she is at a healthy weight. She told me her mother didn’t take care of herself and died of cancer at age 60. Her grandmother died when she was 62. Now her sister, also not taking care of herself, was just diagnosed with the same cancer their mother had. And this woman then tells me that she is at the gym because she has to be. She goes on to tell me that her ex husband routinely calls her “selfish” for spending time at the gym. She is grateful that her new husband is supportive and works out with her. They have the kids working out and eating healthy now, too.
Did my mother love me enough to take care of herself like this woman? It’s hard to answer that question honestly. No. She did not. But she didn’t love herself enough, either. When I was little, I begged her to quit smoking, but she never did. She did not eat healthy food. She wasn’t happy and had a ton of stress. Her father died young from a heart attack when I was a baby, so I never got to know him. Her two brothers both had heart attacks. She knew her family’s health history and still didn’t make time to exercise and eat better.
So my mother was not at my wedding. My husband never met her. She wasn’t at my college graduation because she died five years prior. When I found out I was infertile, could I call my mom? No. I’ve needed her so many times, but she’s gone. I was only 30 when she died. I had accomplished nothing up to that point when compared to the things I’ve done since. She’s missed everything.
It was not an act of God that took my mother so early. It wasn’t an accident. It was self-neglect. She believed it was sacrifice to work that hard, but she wasn’t willing to make sacrifices to take care of herself. She fed her sadness and used nicotine to relax. I know my mom wouldn’t mind me saying these things. We had these conversations several times in life and someday we will see each other again. She knows what killed her. She didn’t want to change. She was a loving mother and I miss her very much. I followed in her footsteps for a while, too. But then I realized it and changed course.
The woman at the gym is anything but selfish. She is being SELFLESS. She is being a good mom. She wants to be a good grandmother, too. She is making time to become as healthy as she can be. She is practicing self control and discipline about the things she puts into her body.
Here’s the rant that triggered this blog…
Don’t stand there and tell me that I’m an “inspiration” and then run down a list of excuses as to why you can’t do what you know you need to do to be healthy. I’m going to ignore you. Or worse, I’m going to challenge you. Do you love your spouse, your kids, your grandkids enough to sacrifice for them? If you routinely poison yourself with processed foods, nicotine, drugs, or alcohol, and then make excuses about why you can’t change – don’t bother trying to sell that story to me because I’m not buying it. I know you love your people, but you aren’t thinking about them. You’re thinking about yourself. I’m sorry if this sounds preachy – I know I have a tendency to do that. But I’ve been listed as a “survived by” in an obituary. I think that gives me a perspective on the issue.
I’m inspired by the woman at the gym. Inspired to move. Inspired to eat right. Inspired to be healthy and vital as long as I can so my husband does not have to bury me and go on without me. So if you can’t find the motivation from how your clothes fit, how stress is building up inside your body, or how often you are sick and depressed, try to be a little selfless like the brave woman at the gym who knows she’s going to get flak from her ex, but also knows that she can’t be a good mom if she’s sick or worse. Motivation is overrated. Love is much more powerful.