Saturday, November 12, 2011

What Grandma Nora Knew All Along

My paternal grandmother, Nora Rust Mickelson, passed away last week on November 3, just over a month shy of her 100th birthday. She was an amazing woman: honest, true, chaste, benevolent, hard-working and strictly obedient to the commandments of the Lord.
At her age one might think that her death was only to be expected, however I think it still came as a bit of a surprise to many of us who knew her. In fact, the family was busily planning a big celebration for her upcoming birthday. I suppose the reason her passing came as such a surprise is because of Nora's virtually unheard of good health! For the most part she was still active and vibrant until the day she died; even joking with the ER doctor that she felt so great she could beat him in a foot race.
I used to love to brag about my 90-year-old grandmother who still raised chickens, tended to a large vegetable garden, and diligently went to the temple several times a week. Oh, how I admired her! So of course I was flattered at her funeral when my uncle said in his talk that when it came to healthy living, Nora considered me her only disciple. To that I must say, "Oh Grandma! You're too sweet! But you entirely underestimate your influence . . . and your posterity." For I know that many of her descendants are actively seeking to follow her example of healthy living!
I can only assume my dear grandma thought of me because I had the privilege of staying with her in her home for several weeks last summer where she and I had the opportunity to talk at length on the topic of health. She was thrilled to learn that I don't use a microwave oven (ever!) and that I was planning to (and later did) have a home birth.
I know those things don't make me unique but as I have received a few inquires since the funeral I'll try to briefly explain some of my other ideas.
The subject of being "healthy" has always interested me, however for years I was only motivated by vanity. I wanted to be beautiful and I wanted to be thin! So as fashion magazines had the greatest number of beautiful thin people on their pages, I mistakenly believed that they were somehow experts on how to achieve such an appearance. So I followed their advice: I slathered on the sunscreen, I dieted, I counted calories, I ate Special K cereal with skimmed milk for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I did sit-ups and ran mile after mile on a treadmill - and yet I continued to be chubby, unhealthy and of course unhappy. Eventually I surrendered to the idea that I was probably never going to achieve my goal and gave up even trying. Years passed and by fate or by chance I was led to some amazing people who opened my eyes to what true health is really about. This has set me on a journey of discovery. And the more I discover the more I stand in awe at how much wisdom Grandma Nora had all along!
As a child I remember being instructed by grandma to go outside and get some vitamin from the sun and I thought to myself, "Vitamins are the Flintstones in a bottle . . . what is grandma talking about?" Then as a preteen I went to visit her whilst wearing some of my sister, Alexis' perfume. But after asking grandma to smell me, she quoted a verse from Isaiah about how in the last days the daughters of Zion would stink! I took another whiff of my scented wrist and couldn't figure out what she was talking about. And as a newly married adult, every summer she continued to ask Mark and me if we had planted a garden. To which I always wished I could answer yes, but only twice had the opportunity to do so.
As it turns out grandma was right about everything! The sun is amazing! It doesn't actually give you vitamins but after exposure to its rays, the body produces a steroid hormone called Vitamin D. And as it turns out, for every person who dies from skin cancer, 100 people die from a Vitamin D deficiency-related disease!
As for perfume, I no longer wear it. After learning what sort of dangerous chemicals are used to constitute the word "fragrance" on a label's list of ingredients and the devastating effects they can have on the human body, I find myself shying away from all things smelly. Now I truly think they stink.
And although I always agreed with grandma on the garden thing, I now have an increased appreciation for it. It's become apparent to me that the food supply in America is very polluted, not only literally but also morally. And when food is grown for the sole purpose of being sold at a profit, the food's integrity and nutritional value is undoubtedly compromised. Consequently we are all suffering a myriad of maladies. If we are what we eat it stands to reason that low-quality food equates with low-quality health and vice verse. Grandma's health was a prime example of this scenario. She raised her own cows, chickens and vegetable garden along with many fruit trees. Giving her control over how the majority of her food was produced, resulting in a safe and nutritionally dense diet -- contributing greatly to her good health (in addition to her devout committment to following the Word of Wisdom of course).
My diet is nowhere as pure as my grandmother's but I hope that someday it will be. And I'm glad to say that I am no longer motivated by vanity. I simply wish to be as healthy as possible for as long as possible so that I can continue to serve others and serve the Lord without becoming a burden on others (or at least have the peace of mind that I did my best to avoid becoming so). For now I am taking one step at a time to change my lifestyle to be more like Nora's - free of toxins, full of sunlight and high-quality, honest food. And when it comes to finding an expert on health and happiness, we would all be wise to skip what conventional media has to say and instead, remember what we've been told by Grandma Nora.


Lorna said...

Oh Tamber, you hit it on the head. She is truly an amazing woman! I can't believe how many people have told me story after story of how grandma influenced their lives. From the bank to the school, to church. It seems everywhere I go, grandma has touched someone. I am so happy for grandma, and I'm so glad she has had an influence in my life and everyone elses!

Emily@TheWickerHouse said...

Tamber, You are so inspiring. I just love you and I know I'm going to learn lots from our little chats.
Grandma Nora was such a great example, and I know she is proud of you.
Love and Sunshine,

Hey it's Natée said...

I rarely read blogs anymore but just happened to read yours today. What a wonderful post! People freak out when they find out we don't have a microwave. How do we eat?!

About 8 years ago I, too, was blessed to meet someone who opened my eyes and forever changed the way I look at food and health. Once my eyes were opened, the knowledge seemed to pour into my life from every direction. Looking back, I can see that God had placed many people in my life to help me along this path, Grandma Nora being at the forefront. I really wish I had paid more attention to the little tidbits of advice she was always doling out. She was a very wise woman. You are too.

Thanks for passing on Grandma's mantra of natural health. She'd be very proud of you.

kates said...

Loved it, Tamber. I'm so glad you have followed in your Grandma Nora's shoes. She had every reason to be proud!