Dr. Leslie Van Romer

My 82-year-old mother, my rock and my hero, opened her eyes just as my father slipped into her hospital room.

Two days before, we six kids got the word.

“Mom’s been in a bad car accident. A truck ran a stop sign at 50 mph, crashed into her car, and flipped it over–twice. She’s okay, but in a lot of pain with serious injuries: broken back, neck, and sternum. Don’t come and don’t call.”

I obeyed–partly. I didn’t call, but I did catch the next possible cross-country plane.

Recovering from subsequent back surgery, my mother watched my father as he tip-toed to her bedside and carefully bent over to kiss her. Sweetly. Gently.

My mother spoke only five words: “Walk with a purpose, Ed.” My father looked at me, made that familiar, funny-dad face, and promptly stood tall, straightening up his spine with shoulders back, chest out, stomach in, and head held high. He then proceeded to strut his purposeful walk around the sterile-white room.

For me, my mother’s wisdom, somehow surfacing from beneath the pain, rang loud and true, beyond simply triggering my dad’s antics and our much-needed giggles.

Yes, lean body mass, a diet centered on fresh fruits and vegetables, daily exercise, sleep, clean air and water, psychological comfort, stress management, and connective relationships all contribute to health, mobility, activity, and longevity.

But a lifelong sense of purpose, which may change directions but doesn’t wane with retirement or age, continually fuels our inner flames, empowering us to add days to our lives and life to our days.

Whether a nurturing mother, a good friend, a helpful volunteer, or, like my eighty-five-year-old dad, working full-time in a thriving, self-built company, consciously aligning your life with your unique higher purpose allows you to be all that you were born to be while opening doors for others to do the same.

Listening to your inner voice and following your highest calling, something far greater than yourself, rewards you with life’s best gifts: inner joy, a sense of peace, and soul-deep gratitude, especially for the gift of life itself.

As for my mother, now eighty-five, she continues to exemplify living her higher purpose, as the rock and hero for her six children, fifteen grandchildren, five great-grand children, and the man she still lovingly reminds:

“Walk with a purpose, Ed!” And indeed he does.

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