I grew up in a stereotypical sandwich family.
No, not the type you eat, but kind where my mother was a full-time caregiver to both my aging grandmother, and to us kids (my brother and I).
There was my mother, smack dab in in the middle, trying to take care of us all.
My grandmother was and is the most special woman I have ever known.
She spoiled me, she listened to my imaginary stories, and when my crazy neighbour Kevin would get his horribly frightful mother to knock on our door and yell at me,
(A woman who in the eyes of a 4-year-old looked like a horrible Jabba the Hut, a disfigured monster that bellowed obscenities and terrified me).
My nan would do what any amazing grandmother would do… she’d slam the door in her face!
Nan had my back, she supported me, we both loved each other unconditionally.
Since my mother was mostly away working to support us all, that worked out wonderfully, because Nan was the constant adult in the house.
But from as early as 4 years old, I can remember her health was fading.
Nan was born in 1918.
She grew up in the times when smoking was considered the norm. It wasn’t bad for the health. Everybody did it.
“Everyone” included my hard working, health care professional (a nurse) grandmother.
She could easily smoke 2 packs a day without giving it a second thought.
As the years went by, Nan was diagnosed with lung diseases: COPD, emphysema, and heart disease.
This meant that she couldn’t always play with me. I had to tell her my imaginary stories while she was lying in bed.
I’d often feel angry that another person would come into the house to take care of me, and I’d terrorize the babysitter until they left. (As a family, we still chuckle about this sometimes)
The years passed and Nan’s health faded further, until finally when I was 15, she passed.
There is so much I could talk about in this moment.
I could explain how this granddaughter was affected by her grandmother’s fading health, but that wouldn’t do this woman justice. She was a strong, elegant loving woman who fought until the very end.
I could explain the strange concoction of both sadness and relief my mother felt when my grandmother passed away.
What I really want to talk about though are the realizations that followed after my grandmother’s passing up until present day.
Because what really shaped a significant part of who I am today revolves around the contrasting realities I would soon witness.
I would experience two very different realities of what it meant to age:
As the years progressed my mother surpassed the age that my grandmother was when I first remember Nan getting ill.
My mother has never smoked a day in her life.
She eats healthy, she barely drinks and she’s pretty darn fit.
At the age of 72, my mother joined my fitness group and climbed 144 flights of stairs during the infamous CN Tower climb.
When my clients assured me that they were too old to climb the tower, my mother became my new marketing strategy.
“She’s 72, SO CAN YOU!” Thanks to her, no one could hide behind their age. And my group sold out!
My mother and I love to travel. Together we’ve experienced cycle tours in Guatemala, long hikes in South of Mexico, hiking tours through Italy’s Cinque Terre, and walks through Scotland’s hilly mountainside.
Not to mention, Mama Jones is an active (very active) grandmother to my niece and nephew.
(And my nephew is at the stage where you have to lift him up or he starts crying. Now that’s over 20 pounds she’s lifting up and down from the second he arrives until he goes home).
One of the powerful reasons I have chosen to work in preventative healthcare, as a coach, a kinesiology graduate, and a healthy weight loss specialist for women over 50, has to do with these two very different realities of aging that I have experienced throughout my upbringing.
By no fault of her own, my grandmother grew up in a time when her one unhealthy habit took her energy, her health and her strength away from her, and unfortunately, I know on a very deep level how that affected not only her but her loved ones.
On the completely opposite end, as my mother surpasses my grandmother’s age, she does more than women half her age.
She sees more of the world and continues to have the strength and good health to participate fully in her children and grandchildren’s lives.
Why do I coach women over 50?
Because I’ve witnessed first-hand the power of healthy aging.
So, to the mothers, the daughters, the grandmothers and the soon to be grandmothers, I feel deeply for what’s at stake.
As I see how caring for your good health opens a world of endless possibilities.
And I feel honoured to be a part of your journey.