My personality is BIG. Everyone who has met me knows this. I joke around a lot and laughter and fun is very important to me. This week I can't joke around; this week I am being very serious when writing my blog. If it doesn't sound like me, it's probably because I don't let many people see this very serious side of me. But here goes:

Just when I thought everything was going really good, something comes up. It's my mother. She is back in the hospital again. After leaving the hospital a few weeks ago, her doctor put her in a nursing home to get her better so that she can go home. It's sad to say that I feel it seems like nursing homes are not places to get people better. Actually, after a conversation I had with one of the nursing home nurses, it may be a place where they send some people to die.

That's kind of harsh, I know. That's how I felt when I first heard it. However, I'm starting to believe it is true. My mother had a few episodes in the nursing home in which she was considered "non-responsive." Now just so you all remember, I live in Florida and my mother lives in Pennsylvania, so it is hard to do or see anything firsthand. Mostly, I have to count on my older sister to let me know what is going on.

After the second episode of my mother being "non-responsive," she was taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital and was admitted again. My mother is 76. She has congestive heart failure. She is a diabetic. She was told that she should have been dead five years ago. Her heart works to only 15 percent of its capacity. If she would have heart surgery, she would surely die on the operating table because her heart is so weak. But she's a fighter. I'm lost, guys. I don't have a joke or a funny comeback for this. I don't know what to do, how to help my mom. I want my mother to live her best life, or live the best life that she has left.

My sister is mad at me because she has the brunt of taking care of my mother all by herself. My sister is not in the best of health herself. When she calls me and listens to my answering machine say, "Live your best life," she gets very angry with me. I understand how she feels. My sister is not living her best life, my mother is not living her best life. How dare I try to live my best life? This is not about just being on The Oprah Show or having Bob Greene as my trainer. People, this is real life. I may have to go to Pennsylvania again soon to take the load off of my sister for a while. All the while I'm trying to live my best life. Life still goes on. The good, the bad and the ugly.

Part of me says, "I don't want to be a grown-up and have to deal with this." And another part says, "Grow up, Barbara. You have to take the bad with the good." This has been a real wake-up call to me. I'm so glad—no ecstatic—that I quit smoking. I'm so glad that my diet has changed. I'm so glad that I'm exercising my heart muscle every single day. I sure am looking at the exercise a whole lot differently today. Is that doughnut worth it? Is that pizza worth it? Is all that junk food really worth it?!

When I hear my mother gasping for breath on the telephone, I think to myself, "Could this have been prevented?" My mother grew up in a time when feeding your husband bacon and eggs cooked in bacon grease was the norm. She thought she was a good wife. Did I tell you my father died of a massive coronary heart attack at 37 years of age? My mother always carried a lot of guilt, thinking that her cooking really did kill him. She grew up learning how to cook using a lot of butter and grease and all the things that can clog your arteries. But she didn't know, no one really did. And Dad was a heavy smoker to boot.

I'm glad I'm eating healthier and I'm going to have a talk with all of my children ASAP about their eating and exercise habits. Please go talk to someone you know and tell them, too. If you smoke, please stop. If you don't, someday your kids will be talking about you just like I am talking about my mother. Don't put your children through that.

We all are going to die someday, but how about if we really claim our best life for as long as we can? Please pray for my mother and for me to be able to be strong enough to get through all of this. And also a prayer for my sister would be appreciated, too.

Please—eat healthy, and exercise, and stop smoking if you do, and...


As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.


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