Sunday, May 3, 2009

More on my grandparents

When I was a child, the way my grandfather ate was comforting. It was predictable. It was the foods I loved. It included a lot of fresh fruit. And he appeared to be in good health. My grandmother was a different story. She died when I was 18 due to emphysema. She was in her early 70s. She had been a long term smoker and drinker, she was overweight, never went out, developed diabetes, never cut out the sugar. Not great last years. She wrote me a letter my first semester of college in which she stated, "Whoever called these the 'golden years' must have had rocks in their head!" What a life changing statement. The way she lived has REALLY affected me. This is the first time I've put that into words. I had no idea she drank until after she died and my mother told us. I remembered her smoking when I was young, but she successfully quite that when she got sick. I had a very close relationship with her. Being from Canada she grew up speaking French and helped me with my French homework through high school. Of course we'd get to talking about other things when I'd go over there and I found she had liberal tendencies. I was just developing my own outlook on life and politics, so I'd bounce ideas off her and then she'd share with me how her own views had changed through her life. I remember one conversation about homosexuality and she seemed completely tolerant. She said she knew of a gay man in her extended family who simply married and hid it, though unsuccessfully, and she thought it was terrible he felt he had to do that. It was the type of conversation I couldn't have with my mother at that age. I was very upset when she died and felt our adult relationship had really just begun. She never met my husband, though she saw our first picture taken together before a college dance. She said he was handsome. He looked like a man and I imagine it must have been interesting to her to think of me as being old enough to be with a man.

I'm muttering on now, but these are some of my last encounters with the woman who so impacted my opinions on health and good living. Obviously, I don't want to have the health problems my grandmother did. Neither does my mother, who also swore she'd never end up like her own mother: lonely and in complete poor health. And she won't. She's on a good path. She moved almost three years ago and has gotten involved in different things here and has new friends and new routines with these friends, works at two dental offices part time and has found a wonderful naturopath doctor.

Back to my grandfather. As I've said, he wants hot meals three times a day. He loves fresh berries with cream (not whipped from a can, the stuff in the carton) and probably sugar on top. He eats bread just about every meal, lots of toast with butter. Lots of sugar on his cereal. Meat at least twice a day. He has a cigar (some of it) every afternoon. He has tea and desert every night at 9pm on the dot. As a kid, I would ask my grandmother to go to the basement fridge and get some of my grandfather's chocolate. He always had a huge stash of chocolate bars... all sorts. My grandmother made pies and donuts from scratch often. She won awards at country fairs for her pies... that was in the early years of my grandfather's retirement (at which time they moved from New Jersey to MD to be near us) before she got very sick. Though my grandfather has made it to 86, and has no big health issues, except for cataract surgery in one eye, he has a difficult time getting around and is very stiff. He's on the usual arsenal of medications for cholesterol and blood pressure. He hasn't been able to garden for the last five years, something he really loved to do, because he can't bend down any longer. It happened quite suddenly to him at about 81. One autumn he's on his knees planting bulbs and the next he has to use a curtain rod to pick up the morning paper because he can't bend to reach it. If I'm going to keep on living for a decade or more after turning 80, I want to do it with flexibility and freedom of movement. So, now that I'm watching my grandfather live through the last years of his life I am again influenced to live a life of health NOW.

(This will tie back in, bare with me.) My sister found the PERFECT wedding dress. It's a Monique Lhulliere. You may have heard of her. She has designed gowns for tons of celebrities. She got a gown from an older collection for 1/4 of the original price. Very awesome. Also, it fits her PERFECTLY, except for needing to be hemmed. It's full ivory lace... so elegant. Anyway, having found the dress she's interested in getting a little sleeker in her body. She is a very healthy weight for her height and has a good BMI reading. But the dress is sexy and form fitting and so she'd just like to slim down a little bit. She got a Wii fit and has been doing that, but she knew she needed to change her diet some. I have, of course, been writing about and telling her about Natalia Rose's detox diet and finally she asked me to give her the short version. Her fiance took the book home to read, because my sis says she just doesn't have time to read it. I have her the basic info on combining meals and how foods digest and she took notes on what I said. Today she called excitedly to tell me about the food she got to begin eating more raw. When I first told her about raw vegan eating, she said she loved food too much to even consider changing her diet that way. Then she saw what it did for me and continues to do for me, when I follow it. So, she's giving it some effort. What helped convince her is my mother was given so much of the same information from her doctor and supported what I was telling my sister about detoxing to lose weight and stay healthy. I'm excited to have finally gotten another comrade. I hope I can meet some people who are living the raw lifestyle who haven't gotten cancer to force them to change.

1 comment:

Cat said...

I think I like the act and performance of cooking too much to go full-on "raw" but healthier tactics and a bigger emphasis on eating vegetarian has definitely been an improvement in my diet lately.

I want to comment on some of your other posts (particularly your recollections of your grandmother, which is downright inspiring) but I need to finish up my work before I can start any kind of long-running conversation with your blog...:)