A look at relationships, personal growth, & living/working in the 21st century.

Posts tagged ‘grandmother’

Why EVERYONE should have a pet.

Take a minute to hug your dog – I’m sure he kisses you every chance he gets.

Having a pet is a always a winning proposition. Some people will say they don’t have time to care for a pet, or they can’t afford the vet bills. However, the reality is that being a pet owner can only improve your life. Caring for a pet requires you to step outside yourself and love another being. A pet’s love for you is unconditional and ever so powerful. No matter how badly your day has gone, upon returning home, your awaiting pet will shower you with genuine, wholehearted affection. As a result, you become happier, healthier, and generally a better person.

In case you’re questioning my logic, let’s look at the anecdotal evidence-health benefits. Pet owners improve their health by interacting with their pets. Lowered blood pressure is one outcome of interaction with domesticated animals. Whether you are walking through a petting zoo or holding a furry family member, it’s just pleasant, relaxing, and peaceful to interact with a friendly animal.

Oxytocin, sometimes called the “love hormone,” is being studied to determine it’s role in social recognition, pair bonding, anxiety, and maternal behaviors (Wikipedia). Oxytocin is a neuromodulator, meaning it is a horomone which remains in the cerebrospinal fluid for an extended period of time, thereby exerting a longer influence on overall brain activity.

Recent studies have shown that after interaction with their pets, individuals have higher levels of Oxytocin in their bloodstream than if they have not had such an interaction with their pet. This research moves science toward finding measurable effects of human-animal interaction.

It is known that pet owners are in better physical health than those without pets. Further, pet owners are more likely to survive serious heart attacks than those without a pet in the home. Anecdotes on the benefits of companion animals are quite compelling, and the professional community is finally noticing. The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute on Child Health and Devrlopment, part of the National Institute of Health, is examining whether service animals can tangibly benefit children’s well-being.

My Grandmother is a living testament to the fact that loving animals extends your life – both the quantity (length) and quality. Despite daily arthritis pain in many of her joints, she spends a significant portion of every day caring for/interacting with her dogs (English Bulldogs).

Pets teach us invaluable life lessons, such as, how to be happy, how to treat others well, and how to enjoy every moment. Why would anyone not want to learn to live these lessons? So, don’t forget – hug that pet!


My Grandmother

They say write about what you know-I know my grandmother. As long as I can remember she’s been my hero, my comrade, my ally. In many important ways she’s always made sense to me. Throughout my life she’s been a force of good in my life. When I was a child, she always made me feel loved, smart, talented, and special. I cannot recall a single time when she raised her voice or in any way seemed angry with me. As I started school, she shared her love of learning with me and gave me the appetite for knowledge that still spurs my intellectual growth today. The annual trips she and I made to buy my new school clothes were magical times for me. The magic was in the knowledge that our trips were, without fail, times when I felt understood, and when I knew disappointment was not even a possibility.

She was the only elder in my life who could genuinely relate to my college experiences. She made course suggestions, only when I asked, and her ideas were right on-the-mark, as she knew me as well as I knew her. She knew I wanted and needed a higher education and an associated career, unlike any of my male elders.

I could go on and on with the accolades, and today I feel so very fortunate my grandmother is still a vital presence in my life. However, sometimes my grandmother leaves me experiencing two contradictory emotions-joy that she’s here, and fear of the day she’ll be gone.

My grandmother lives life as she chooses to, except for losing my Grandfather to prostate cancer, and the arthritis pain that hinders her mobility.  Her independence and relative self-sufficiency is truly something to be thankful for, and we, her family, are thankful.  However, we are also very afraid.

Home Alone:  My grandmother lives alone, in a 75+ year old farm house, 7 miles from her closest relative, my mother.  The house has one bathroom, which is on the second floor, atop a narrow set of 13 potentially deadly stairsteps. But this is how my grandmother wants it.  My parents suggested she move into town, where the snowdrifts get cleared by the street maintenance workers.  In town, where she would have neighbors nearby who would help watch out for her safety and well being.  In town, where she could live in an efficient, temperature-controlled, modern and fully functional home.  My grandmother scoffed at these ideas.  We tried to compromise, suggesting she tear down the farmhouse and bring in a modular, pre-constructed home, to go on the exact same spot of land.  Again she scoffed, stating that the farmhouse was good enough for her.  In the winter, when the wind blows, her pipes often freeze.  That is, unless she remembers to turn on a fan and set it to blow through a hole in the wall behind a bookcase.  I could expound upon the many quirks and potential dangers of this ancient farmhouse but I think you get the point.

Driving:  My grandmother has a current driver’s license.  Last year she had to renew her license.  She had to take the eye exam, the written test, and the driving test.  She passed them all.  Well, the eye test she passed by seeing her own opthalmologist and having him certify the acuity of her eyesight – she said she could not see through her glasses into the eye testing machine at the DMV.  Last year, on a windy day, she said the wind took the car and she hit the side of a bridge while traveling at road speed.  She quickly regained control of the car and drove home.  The car suffered damage, but was drivable, and she was fine.  She had the car repaired and went on with her life.  While her car was in the repair shop, she drove my grandfather’s four-wheel-drive pickup.  Nothing and no one is going to limit the mobility and movements of my grandmother! Thankfully, my grandmother says she no longer drives at night.  Hopefully, she holds true to her word.  But what about all the other less than perfect drivers?  My grandmother is 89, with reflexes which have certainly been slowed by advanced age.  Could she drive defensively and avoid an impending accident caused by another driver?

Pets:  My grandmother has always loved animals, sometime to the point where I wonder if she loves creatures more than people.  Just kidding, but she almost lives for her dogs.  She has been raising and breeding dogs since before I was born.  It’s a passion of hers.  When I hear my mother say something to my grandmother about being alone on the farm, my grandmother always quickly responds by stating that she’s never alone with the dogs there.  However, these are 60+ pound English bulldogs.  These dogs can be gentle and great companion animals.  But I have also seen her spoiled, often unruly dogs, fight amongst themselves to the point where she has to break up their competitions to be the ‘Alpha’ dog.  Dogs get quite careless about where they are biting when their adrenaline is pumping and their instinctual, aggressive behaviors are at work.  What if they knocked down my grandmother and bit her?  Again, I worry.