Grandparents Day: A Reminder to Live a Healthy Lifestyle
As Grandparents Day 2012 approaches, I am renewing my annual vow to keep living the healthiest possible lifestyle so that I can, with some luck in the bargain, stick around to see my precious grandsons reach milestone after milestone. This all started the year the elder of the two was 15 months old. His eyes welled up with tears when I kissed him good-bye at the airport after a visit. I hugged him fiercely and then I said, as cheerfully as I could muster, "Bye bye!"
But he didn't say "Bye bye!" in return. Instead, he made his little hands into fists and bumped them together. My daughter had taught him baby sign language and I had learned that this was the sign for "More." "More?" I asked, "More juice? More crackers?" "No!" he sobbed as he made the sign again. "Nana!"
More Nana. He knew I was leaving and he wanted more Nana. And in that moment, overwhelmed with love for this child of my child, I wanted "more Nana" in my own way – more time to live and watch him grow, more birthdays, more Christmases, more sunsets and sunrises, more laughter, even more tears. More life.
I was sobbing myself as I waved while my daughter pulled the car away. In that moment, I made a firm promise that I would do everything within my power to be good to my body and brain and spirit so that I would have the best chance possible at staying healthy enough to see the boys graduate from college and maybe even dance at their weddings and then welcome some great-grandchildren. My mother was 90 when she died, so I could have the longevity gene, but I'm not taking any chances. I'm doing my part to try to live long and well. Of course illness is not always the result of an unhealthy lifestyle. But a healthy lifestyle does give us an edge.
This will be my third observance as a grandmother on Grandparents Day. So far anyway, my upgraded efforts at living a healthy lifestyle have kept me feeling fit and fine. I have been fortunate enough to enjoy my grandsons as they have become boisterous and brilliant little boys with bright futures – the elder one just shy of four and the younger one 2 ½. We don't get together in person nearly often enough since I'm in New York and they're in Phoenix, but we Skype a lot and when I do get out there for a visit, both of them still cry when I leave.
So do I. But mine are tears of happiness and gratitude because each of us has continued to be blessed with "more Nana." May that be true for many, many more Grandparents Days to come.
Sondra Forsyth is Co-Editor-in-Chief of ThirdAge.com.