My Lola (grandma), also known as Inang or Meding to friends and family, turns 91 year this year. Inevitably, it’s made me think about how she’s been able to stay so strong and sharp up to this ripe old age (and praying for many more years to come).
To put things in a little perspective, my Lola was born in the Philippines as Mercedes Pimentel on November 23, 1923. This was before TV was invented, before the first man landed on the moon and even before sliced bread was made.
And, as a true testament to how long she’s been around, there’s four generations of her family living in Australia, the Philippines and the U.S. I’m her seventh grandchild out of 14 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
A great example of her brilliant bill of health was when she went to the hospital not long ago to have her back checked. One of the doctors had to fill in a record sheet and asked her how many times she’d been to hospital and Lola replied, ‘just once’. The doctor didn’t believe it and thought she had a hearing problem, so he had to check with my aunty, who confirmed she’d in fact had only been once to a hospital – in her life!
I recently asked Lola what she thinks has contributed to her long and healthy life and it boiled down to a few simple things:
Cook your own meals
This is not to say Lola doesn’t eat out on occasion, but she is living proof you are what you eat. She’s never smoked, doesn’t drink alcohol and takes everything in moderation. Her favourite dishes include fish sinigang, adobo and the occasional suman with puto (and she loves her coffee – three a day with a little sugar). The key here is making most of your meals from scratch while still enjoying the foods you love. What’s more, Lola never eats any of the hyped up superfoods we eat today such as kale, blueberries, goji berries, quinoa or chia seeds. She easily got her nutrients from underrated every day foods such as root vegetables, eggs, apples and greens.
Keep active – physically, socially and mentally
One of the things that keeps Lola sharp is her senior citizens group, which she loyally attends once a week. She loves playing bingo or visiting different types of places and parks. She even made a green dress for one of their dress up parties.
Lola’s active social life is matched by her many travels. Not one to wait for a companion to go with her, she’s been to the Philippines many times, and also to the States right up into her late 80s all by herself. She once won a trip to the Philippines on a two-dollar raffle. Being a solo traveller for many years is a reflection of how healthy and active Lola really is. Far from just sitting down and watching TV, Lola also keeps busy with a daily routine that usually consists of gardening, doing puzzles, playing solitaire and of course, cooking.
Trust in God’s will
Lola’s spiritual life is as strong as her physical one: she always puts in the time and effort for God through prayer, mass and celebrating feast days. On Sundays, going to mass with my aunty is first on her list. When things don’t happen in a certain way she puts it down to God’s will or greater plan and never fails to acknowledge him when she experiences his blessings.