My 90-year old Mom is training for a 5k…
My Mom, Rita, has always been a fitness enthusiast, before I was born and as far back as I can remember…
I’ve heard stories from my uncles, Rita’s brothers, that their Dad would take them to the local track in Boston for 25 and 50-yard races. As a teenager and young woman, Rita loved to dance.
As a young Mom, Rita got into the 50’s craze of hula-hooping and, of course, Jack LaLanne on our B&W television. I remember watching her keep up with Jack in our tiny living room in California. I can still see her in my mind!
When I was a teenager, my Mom took golf lessons and participated for years in a bowling league with my Dad. Rita was widowed very young, at age 50, when my Dad died unexpectedly. In true Rita fashion, she picked herself up, stood face forward, got herself a job as a secretary and began to put back the pieces of her life. She traveled extensively with travel groups and loved walking tours through cities she had only dreamed of seeing…
As a senior citizen, Rita bought a stationery bike and pedaled every single night and joined fitness classes at her local senior center. She thrived on movement and well-being.
This last decade is what has brought some health and wellness issues to my Mom – sciatica problems, pneumonia/bronchitis/asthma concerns each winter, severe arthritis – and pain along with them, causing simple movement/activities/personal care to be sometimes prohibitive. Rita had difficulty maneuvering the stairs onto the senior bus and found walking up and down the halls of her independent senior living complex with her walker (doctor’s orders) too tedious. It’s these conditions that led us to the decision that an assisted living facility was the right decision.
This decision didn’t come easy. It was a difficult consideration with recognition that my Mom’s independence was, for lack of a better word, threatened; but in my Mom’s spirit of well-being, she knew it had to be done. We looked at several facilities, found one she loved and then waited just about a year and a half for a placement. We are very fortunate to have found a beautiful assisted living facility near my home, large enough to have a great sense of independence, but small enough to feel welcomed, embraced and genuinely cared for.
Of course, any move for anyone comes with trepidation and (let’s just say it) fears of the unknown. My Mom has a lifelong hearing loss that lends itself to finding refuge alone to avoid the sense of isolation (even with hearing aids), but she soon understood the kindness of community where assistance is the name of the game.
Immediately, my Mom began to recognize that assistance means more independence. The staff is very cognizant of each resident’s safety needs, while encouraging activity, community, independence, movement.
Rita began walking again, for enjoyment, maneuvering the halls of her new home and around a lovely outdoor courtyard while getting to know people. Residents are strongly encouraged to use their walkers, and a sense of belonging was quite remarkable.
I began to see my Mom emerge from even her pain.
I visited one morning with my young grandson in his stroller and suggested that we go for a walk around my town. Rita was delighted.
We walked 1.4 miles…
The next time we walked around town, we traveled 1.8 miles!
A few walks later, I said, “Mom, you keep this up and you’ll be doing a 5k!”
Rita’s response was, “Can I use my walker?”
My answer, “YOU BET!”
AND THIS BEGAN MY MOM’S JOURNEY TO A 5K AT 90 YEARS OLD!
Yesterday, we headed to Kohl’s for walking shoes and wicking socks…
I am now looking for a 5k in my general area… probably in late June, early July, one small enough to feel comfortably non-overwhelmed, yet big enough for lots of runners and lots of walkers with lots of spectators cheering on their loved ones – especially all of Rita’s great-grandkids – a great moment of LIFE and teaching and of learning…
A celebration. A WOW moment. A FINISH to a beginning. A BEGINNING of something new at 90.
One to celebrate 90, and a life journey renewed and rejuvenated through movement… and movement through 90 and beyond.
Hey, I’ve gotta go.
Rita is waiting for me and our “training” walk today!
I just can’t wait to see my Mom’s 1st Place – 90+ Female category!