The lotion paid off
What we always do is what leads to lasting results. As Aristotle said: “Success, then, is not an act, but a habit.” We know that starting good habits early and maintaining them is the key to a good and long life.
As my 80-year-old mother was being transported by ambulance after a stroke, the attendant remarked to her how beautiful and soft her skin was. My sister, who was on the same ride, responded, “She lathered herself with lotion every day of her life. It must have paid off.”
It is with sadness I note that some of the routines, or habits my mother practiced had just as certainly contributed to what became her final moments on earth. She had smoked for about 50 years. If she had at least made an effort to build up her cardiovascular system, perhaps the damage could have been more contained. The extent of her daily exercise for the previous 25 years, however, was claiming the mail, letting the dog in and out, and ambling between the TV sets in her living room and her bedroom. That inactivity too brought the expected results.
When the stroke hit she did not have the respiratory strength or circulation to come back. The damage had been too severe. She had no reserves. As we children watched her final hours, we each were sobered by what we knew had been inevitable.
For me, applying lotion is more than a daily post-shower ritual, it is a tradition as well. That is one habit that has already paid off. Choosing not to smoke but those two crazy counter-culture years was also a good decision. I too, however, have a few traditions of my own that do not bode any better that those that waylaid my mom.
My habit is to crave sweets and stimulants. Not only do these lead to putting on unwanted pounds, but they also increase my craving for them. It is a vicious circle. I wonder if they break down actual organs, but I suspect so as I am already a diabetic with high blood pressure.
So, it will not be a secret when I am fighting my last battles. Some of my habits will have taken their toll that compounded with time. It would be hard to estimate how many years of my life I am losing due to these habits, but I do know that I have lost significant quality of life already.
We live like there is no tomorrow, but it will come. We will live long enough to reap what we have sown, for good and bad. I will be a prettier picture with my soft and smooth skin, while my cardiovascular system strains to sustain my life. Harsh, but true. Some damage cannot be reversed, but it is never too late to begin change.