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Friday, July 10, 2009
So, I was talking with my sister the other day and she commented that yesterday would be the 10th anniversary of my mother’s death. My sister could not believe that it had only been 10 years while I feel like it has been forever – I guess my sister and I were at different points in our lives and different things have happened since that time.
The death was tragic and sudden – my mother was only 52 years old. I have always been very date oriented – I do not forget birthdays, anniversaries, special dates, etc – and this event – this date was so significant. This was the first true death that I had to experience. It really drew a line in the sand for me – it was one of those dates where my mind catalogs everything as either before or after.
Before my mother’s death, looking back, I was really in poor health and I did not care. I was just like everyone that I worked with – everyone that I hung around. Everything was super sized and the more fried or the more bacon the better (I would have loved the baconator!). My favorite places to eat were the “all you can stand” variety – the more food the better. I also had been smoking since high school. There was no exercise in my life – none – I didn’t even make excuses. I would drive the 1/2 mile to the gas station to buy my cigarettes.
So, when my mother died, I was 27 years old, I was about 50 pounds heavier, I did no exercise and I smoked heavily. I also put back a lot of beer. My mother was in better shape than I was – she walked her dog daily and was more active. However, she also smoked and believed that everything went better with a stick of butter. I also, for the first time, realized that I didn’t have any grandparents anymore – heart disease runs in the family. The writing was on the wall - I was headed down a road to disaster.
I took my mother’s death at such a young age as a wakeup call. My health was deteriorating – I would not be able to maintain this unhealthy lifestyle of a 20-something much longer. I was scared. I took responsibility of my actions and within a few months I had successfully quit smoking – it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I rewarded myself negatively with food but I was fighting one battle at a time. Once the cigarettes were out of the picture I had to drop the weight. I had ballooned up –the last straw was when I had to stop on the way to a bar-b-queue to get a pair of 40 inch shorts.
I started to make small adjustments to my diet. Just by cutting out the very worst parts of my diet I started to see results. I cleaned up the diet even more and the results were so encouraging. Then the exercise started. There was a park near my house that I started to jog around. It took months but I remember the immense gratification I felt when I could run around that park without stopping – it was only 8 tenths of a mile!
I started to run 5k’s and ride bikes and enjoy the outdoors. I started to play sports at work – softball, volleyball and soccer. I was feeling great and my self esteem was sky rocketing. The TV set was never on anymore – fast food was a thing of the past. I was in the best shape of my life and just getting better – just feeling better. I hate the fact that it took something so tragic to make me wake up and evaluate my life. I miss my mother – but I have gained tremendously from her death.
I cannot imagine where my life would be without the changes that I have made. I believe that exercise and a healthy lifestyle saved my life. Years later I would once again use these life skills to overcome huge obstacles.