Sadly, I lost one of my grandmothers last summer. That leaves me with only one; my paternal grandmother. She is 97-years-young, and I do mean young. That woman is remarkable. She lives on a farm in Texas where she has, at last count, something like 19 cats and dogs, she has dozens of chickens for which she built a coop – herself – a few years ago, and she is active. My entire life, the woman would get up in the morning and walk miles; she doesn’t let age or anything silly like that stop her. One of my favorite things to do when we visit her rural Texas farmland is to sit down and just talk to her. We like to sit on her front porch as the sun comes up in the cool mornings. Mornings are always so cool there.
Maybe not to the people who live there, but to this Floridian they are quite cool. We take our coffee onto the deck and we chat as the day begins and we wonder what it has in store for us. We know my kids will run wild on her farmland looking for some muddy puddles in which to jump with their adorable Hunter rain boots my five-year-old insists on having in every color so that she can wear them every single day of her life. Our two-year-old twins will run amok just having the best time, and our seven-year-old will go on a kitten hunt to see if any of the cats has recently had babies she can play with anywhere on the farm.
My grandmother will tell me stories. She will tell me of the time she led my dad’s boy scout troop up a mountain on a hike, or the time she killed a rattlesnake with her broom when she found it on her front porch. She will tell me of her love of painting and how she lost her desire to paint when my grandfather died. She will tell me of her world travels and of her life, and she will make me get up eventually and help her feed the chickens and make breakfast.
But mostly, we talk. She likes to tell stories, and I love to listen. As she says, when you are in such good health at her age, most of your friends are dead and you become friends with their kids, who also die. She will live forever, and it’s because she is remarkable. However, she is running out of people to talk to and she is frustrated that people don’t take better care of themselves so that they will live longer. It’s fascinating to hear her talk about that. My grandmother is beautiful. Even at her age, she is remarkably beautiful. She comes from a long line of amazing genes, and everyone in her family lives forever. I know that I, too, will probably live to be a million.
If I’ve learned one thing from my grandmother, it’s that taking care of yourself is the most amazing thing you will ever do for yourself; and that it’s not even remotely necessary to spend a bunch of money doing it. She has no patience for people who waste money on gym memberships and expensive meal planning services. She is one of the busiest women I know, and she finds the time every single day to care for herself, and her methods are pretty ingenious.
At my grandmother’s age, you might expect her to be in a wheelchair or to be unable to move, but she walks miles each day. She has always walked five miles every single day, sometimes twice a day, as long as I can remember. It is merely part of her lifestyle and her routine. Now she does two in the morning and two in the afternoon, but she’s also 97, so I’m not any less impressed.
If there is one thing that my grandmother makes everyone in the family do at all times, it’s drink water at every meal. There is no glass of wine with dinner (you drink water, you have wine later). You can have your coffee in the morning, but you will have water with your breakfast. You will have water all day long. Aside from milk and coffee and wine, the only thing to drink all day long in her house is water; and that’s all she drinks throughout the day.
She doesn’t care how a person stays active. My grandmother just believes wholeheartedly in being active all the time. She believes in being active at all times because it’s what keeps you healthy. She once said to me that she is a lifelong student of life; she volunteers, she has her farm, she works in her house and around her yard and on the farm and with the community every single day of her life. She says that she can’t stop or she will die – literally – of boredom. She keeps her mind and her body sharp this way.
My grandmother believes in big, elaborate holiday meals; but that is it. You will not find her eating big meals throughout the day save for breakfast. She knows that eating a big breakfast is where it’s at. She has bacon, eggs, toast, fruit and yogurt every morning. For lunch, she might have a small salad and an apple. If she’s hungry again later, she’ll eat a banana. For dinner, she might grill herself a piece of chicken and top a salad and add some fruit to her plate. She eats well, and she eats healthy all the time. Her meals are always delicious and she never deprives herself, but she also eats things that fuel her body rather than things that are trendy and expensive. She grows most of her own fruits and veggies, too, so she’s never at the supermarket for anything other than milk and coffee – and wine.
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