The year was 1974. It was a hot and blistering summer in Western Kansas, four hours from the comfort of my own home and city. I was staying for a week at my grandparents’ home just off Interstate 70 with my older brother. I was miserable. For starters, I was homesick. Also, at the age of 10, it was difficult for me to enjoy seven days with two individuals, my grandparents, whom I perceived as “so old.” (They were 73 and 69…ancient!)
My grandparents slept in the basement of their little bungalow, in which they had lived since the 1920s. To my youthful nose, it smelled ancient. Needless to say, my brother and I slept on two roll-away beds down there with them. Yes! It was one giant snore fest for seven long nights. (And grandma was the loudest!)
When the morning sun began to rise, grandma and grandpa would eagerly get out of bed. Grandpa would go start the coffee and prepare to take off fishing or take his leisurely walk to the local coffee shop. The first thing grandma would do, in her pajamas, and going commando to boot, was her “exercises,” as she referred to them. These consisted of lying on her back on the floor and raising each leg up and down approximately 30 times. I was still in bed, trying to sleep, but all I could hear was some huffing and puffing and the added rhythm of bodily creaking noises from those ancient knees and hips of hers.
Grandma did her “exercises” religiously. Even when she took us to the local swimming pool, she encouraged us to do one hundred leg kicks for each leg while holding onto the side of the pool. I also forgot to note that we had to ride our bicycles to the pool. This was not a week at my grandparents’ home. This was boot camp. I was miserable.
Fast forward 35 years, and I am now a die-hard exercise fanatic, mostly due in part to my grandmother’s example. Interestingly enough, if you have kept pace with these articles I have written, that old grandma of mine is still alive…and kicking! I am not kidding. With her 105th birthday quickly approaching, it is imperative that she maintain her youthful physique, although she will admit, she does not have the same gusto as she used to have when she was 102.