by Maureen St. Germain
Four and a half years ago, my father had a stroke. He was paralyzed on the left side of his body. He was 84 years old and leading a very full life! He was an extremely talented 3-sport athlete and (football, basketball and baseball)…something not very common in this day of children focusing on one sport from age 5 on. He then went on to have 9…yes, 9 children! Having 9 children alone would keep anyone active and busy but Dad was always willing to throw the ball or shoot hoops, and he also took on the task of coaching many teams. His motto, “Learn something new, have fun and win a few along the way.” When he had his stroke he was going to the local Y three times a week to exercise. He would often take walks around his neighborhood.
Over the past 4-1/2 years, my siblings and I have visited him and watched his decline. It was heart breaking to see this tall, strong, active man in a wheelchair. His left hand started to atrophy and turn in on itself. He would often ask when we were going to leave, not really grasping the fact that he couldn’t leave because he was so tall (6’3”) and strong that he was considered “assist plus 2” meaning it took a machine and 2 staff members to even get him in and out of his bed. Dementia had set in which I believe we were all a little grateful for because my father did not like feeling useless and stuck in one place. At least in his world, his condition was temporary.
This Spring my father’s decline quickened rapidly and he was not even able to be taken out of bed many days. I feel fortunate that I was able to be with him in his last few days as were all my siblings and when he did pass away on September 1 I cam to a realization, I want to MOVE and I am fortunately that I can MOVE my body.
My physical activity level is probably considered above average compared to the most people…it is the way I make my livelihood but I would be the first person to make an excuse on a Sunday morning when I didn’t have a class to sit on my buns and hang out all day. Vacation…why should I exercise…”I am on vacation from having to do that” was a common phrase for me. But I had a realization being with my Dad the last few days. He would have given anything to be able to move his body again and the best thing I can do to honor him is to continue to be active!
Of course, I am a firm believer in Native Barre and Native Jump but I am even speaking about being active and moving my body in an even more simple way. We live in a beautiful area of the world. Sunday afternoon take a 15-minute walk and enjoy your muscles moving and the scenery, don’t complain about having to squeeze in that workout. My point is that it doesn’t need to be the sore muscle inducing, sweat dripping exercise. Feel fortunate that you can move your body. Many of us think of exercise as a way to look good now, this is true but also keep in mind the long term benefits. The more you move your body now…the longer you WILL be able to move. So to honor my father, I will continue to move my body.
I hope you will consider doing the same to keep yourself healthy and happy.