When you’re young, sometimes you miss the important messages that can be found with dramatic moments in life. My grandfather passed away in 1997, when I was 15 years old, after a challenging experience with diabetes.
His name was Abram. A seebea in the Navy, grandpa Abram fought in World War II. I remember the stories of him being chased by sharks and cheetahs. Once he climbed up a coconut tree. The life he lived through his funny recollections of history was an adventurous one.
As his namesake, I have a lot in common with him. Our sense of humor and our appetite for life. Our love for telling stories and our other big appetite — for food. But I don’t want my last days on earth to be like his.
For the Hispanic community, diabetes is a true killer. Abram passed away in a nursing home. He had trouble walking and was on dialysis. If he was in pain, he didn’t show it. After all, he was a member of the Greatest Generation.
As a Hispanic person with a family history of diabetes, I am unfortunately more inclined to fall victim to this deadly disease.
Even knowing this truth, I was living, and eating, without care or attention to personal history.
So this past July, I started to do the unthinkable. I stepped foot in a gym and changed my diet. Two months later, I’ve lost 35 pounds.
I don’t say this to boast about my success, but hopefully to encourage you to do what you’ve been hoping to get done for quite some time.
I couldn’t deny what was true when during a late summer day my short walk to work became a surprising challenge. I found myself out of breath and sweating as I walked uphill to the Western New Mexico University campus.
At 34 years old, I knew my health was headed in the wrong direction.
I don’t know if I’ll have a rewarding life like grandpa did. It doesn’t look like I’ll be sailing to the Pacific, or find myself sitting in a foxhole hearing gunfire just over my head. I’m not that tough. But this October, I’m surprised to learn something about myself that I think is true of all us.
We can do something we never imagined, no matter how small or large, if we focus on something that inspires us.
Thank you, Abram.
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on October 6, 2016.