I’m just back from my annual “Fubar Family Vacation” at West Edmonton Mall. The kids love it. My parents like it well enough. They’re in Inuvik the rest of the year so the casino is an exciting switch from the Legion meat draw. They walk the mall less and less as the years go by, aching feet and all. But I still marvel at how well kept they are, considering they are deep into their seventies.
It’s not just a daughter’s positive thinking here, I post pictures and people comment on how they look “the same”. That is, the same as the teacher they knew way back when. (Dad taught high school math, accounting, and French at one time. Mom taught grade 2 or 3, sometimes in a split.)
They are deep into their seventies and they are now just going grey. Their minds are still sharp. I’ve got theories about why:
- All of their adult life was spent in the Arctic. Less ultraviolet. Clean air.
- They drink a lot of water. Mom told me as a kid to start each day off with a tall glass. I do. I do. Then she gave me a coffee (Euro parents are all about balance).
- They worked to live; off every weekend and all summer except for the trips to the Teacher’s Store in August and all those years Dad organized the regional Arctic Winter Games trials. Yes they took marking home but heck, they were teachers. They didn’t obsess nor were they workaholics.
- They had a five minute commute. On foot.
- Hobbies weren’t seen as besides the point. Dad lived for his cabins and fishing and flats of beer. Mom puttered with plants and plowed through books. They now have a greenhouse and big flowers in the yard. Dad likes to try new recipes. Mom frets about the mess. It fun to watch.
- But the most important thing is SLEEP. They sleep and have always slept A LOT.
It has to make a difference. In a small town where kids can play outside without helicopter parenting the folks slept in. Maybe they didn’t sleep but they stayed in bed listening to the radio.
There are years we’d come home for lunch and Dad would nap for 15 minutes after eating.
After the Legion he’d eat and go directly to bed and sleep 12 hours. Oh beer. Mom didn’t drink much but never rushed anywhere.
The year Obama first became President he turned completely grey. I don’t think it was because he got the keys to the bombs. He knew those were coming. He knew the truth of it all would be horrible. But he was probably already sleeping fewer hours than he should. And then take a few hours off of that. Bam! Grey hair. Wrinkles. Stress.
I often wonder how I came to be the kid and now woman who races everywhere and lives on fast forward. Maybe mellow skips a generation. Maybe I’m wrong about the sleep. Maybe water is enough? And the radio?