Friday, July 23, 2010

"We Thought We Would Live Forever...."

For most of us....when we were 12, 16, 19, or in our 20's, we didn't think much about the lifestyle decisions we made during those years of innocence and exploration. We didn't look ahead to the future.....say 30 - 40 years down the the consequences of those lifestyle choices. We were more interested in "the here and now" because at those young ages..... What did we think? That we were invincible..... immortal..... We thought we would live forever and never grow old. At that time, "Life" was all about being popular in school, proms, having tons of friends, "the" hair doo, wearing makeup, first boyfriends or girlfriends, the first car, graduation, going off to college, parties, sororities, & fraternities......And maybe that's the way it should be. But, I can't help thinking...."if we could have seen into the future.... and looked at the status of our health....would we've been more mindful of our lifestyle choices.... 30 to 40 years earlier?"

I had a week of very sad news delivered in an email from a long-lost friend and an email from a long-lost cousin both of which I have not seen or spoke to since 1983. These "catch-up correspondence" brought info and news filled with such a deep sadness that I have not felt since my father passed. People my age, which were once very close to me at another time of my life, had died or were dying of lung cancer or heart attacks. These were friends that I hung with in high school in the early 70's. They were all cigarette smokers... even at that young age. Some started in their very early teens and had smoked for 30 to 40 years before finally quitting. But for them, it was too late. The damage done... and with that... they met a very early, agonizing and painful death in their mid to late 50's. I was stunned....speechless ..... and left with heartache. The memories of so long ago were filled with fun, laughter, and youth..... with hope, with great futures ahead for us all and with no cares or worries.

In the same email from my friend, she spoke of a woman, near and dear to me, that is just turning 92. She still drives her car, lives in the same little house of 40 years ago and is in quite good health. As a teen, I always had a great deal of respect for this woman and her lifestyle. She was frugal, mindful of everything...not wasting a thing. She was always kidded about the “iddy-biddy- tiny” glob of leftovers she saved. She always remarked, "This will be my supper tomorrow." She ate like a bird. She was always busy "doing something," very creative and talented. She was an amazing homemaker, mother, grandmother, wife..... And she has out lived her husband and 2 of her 3 children.

Lifestyle choices......... made at very young ages that literally become life or death situations in our mid life years. Had we known the impact on our health and wellness...... Had we known it came down to the difference of living to a “ripe old age” or dying too soon in our mid lives..... Would we have chosen not to smoke? Not to consume alcohol or use drugs? Not to drive recklessly? Not to take dangerous and stupid risks?

These are questions that my friends may have very well asked themselves once they were delivered their fatal diagnosis.

These are questions that we, who are left living, must ask ourselves....Is it too late? Hoping with all hope.....that in making positive healthy lifestyle changes now....will negate the effects of those risky choices we might have made back in our teens and twenties.

Until Next Time......


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