Whenever I meet a new client, a new family or stand up to speak in front of a large group of people about health and wellness, I think of my mom. I think of all the years she worked tirelessly to provide for our family. I think of all the nights she came home from work as a pharmacist to work on her continuing education credits. I think of all the times she complained about how unfair things were at work or how terrible this person or that person treated her. I remember her successfully putting down cigarettes once and for all after 10 long years of trying. I saw her constantly struggling to control her weight by trying everything under the sun. .. everything but eating right and exercising. I think about how she developed high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and eventually suffered the mini strokes that started the house of cards falling.
My mother passed away on April 18, 2013. Her passing was full of drama and totally on her own terms, much like most of her life. I will tell you all about that in a little bit. I never told her, but she is the reason that I began to walk this walk. I never told her, but I bet she knows now.
Most of you don’t know that my mom was sick for a very long time. She suffered a devastating stroke six years ago. It left her wheelchair bound, her entire left side unusable, completely dependent and a shell of her former self. The week before she died, she suffered the stroke that took the rest of what was left of what we would consider “her.” That’s the Cliff’s notes version of the life I wish could’ve been different. I wish she didn’t suffer. I wish she didn’t miss all the great things she missed. I wish she had the chance to enjoy the retirement she earned. I wish that my kids, nieces and nephew could’ve had a memory of a healthy Lola. Lola is the Filipino word for grandmother. Unfortunately, this is the memory I have of both of my Lolas as well. Strokes run in my family.
On April 18th our school district closed due to flooding for the first time ever. The rain hampered all the plans that my family members had for work, visits elsewhere and of course school. I remember thinking that the rain during that 24 hour period felt epic. It was surreal. I was the only one at the hospital in the morning and my mom was hanging on. It was clear she was waiting. Within 5 minutes of the last family member arriving, she took her last breath and was gone. I remember having to walk to the nurses’ station to say, “My mom just passed away.” I said it like I was asking for another blanket. In truth, it felt like someone else was saying it. I heard myself and although I was praying for her suffering to end, it killed me to say it. That’s the end of my mom’s story.
My style of consulting, training and educating is generally upbeat and comes with a “You can do it!” message. What lies just below that is the “You HAVE to do it!” sense of urgency that I feel. I have seen firsthand, up close and personal, for many years, what happens when you don’t do “it.” I don’t want to put my children or my husband through what my family and I had to witness and suffer with my mom. I don’t want my family to walk her walk either. I want something better for them. I want something better for everyone that comes to me and I want it for everyone hasn’t come to see me. I just want it for everyone.
I learned a lot from my mom. I learned what I wanted for my life and what I didn’t want. A few of those lessons: Attitude is everything. You have nothing if you don’t have your health. Take risks you believe are worth taking. Family first. Laugh long and hard. Always say “I love you.” Life is short.
As you read my blog posts or KuhelGirl Fitness, Inc. FB status updates, listen to me during our training sessions/consults/public speaking engagements, or hear a story told over the fence, I want you to know that all of it comes from a very positive place. It comes from me wanting you to take control of your story. I don’t know everything, but I will share everything I know. I’m always learning and looking for inspiration in an effort to teach and inspire. Now you know why I’m so passionate about health and wellness. I don’t want anyone to have to wish for a different story.
Until next time…Live well! – Toni Kuhel