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Tribute to Sally Floyd and a Life Well-lived

Posted by Joe Antle on April 22, 2021 7:10 AM EDT
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From time to time I find myself tempted to use this Blog posting hub as a way to share something personal...

... in nature that might not be directly connected to the focus of this Blog posting hub's purpose.

However, on most of those occasions, I choose not to do that.  There are some exceptions, however.  And when those exceptions occur, I try to connect the topic to the general purpose that the three active bloggers have for this Blog posting hub which is to forward innovation and insights into healthier living practices, policies, and initiatives.

So, today I am doing that....

Yesterday, around dusk, my family and I lost a dear person in our lives.  She was the matriarch of the family that I married into more than four decades ago.  By most standards, Sally Floyd lived a life that people could be proud of.  She raised three fine children to become fine adults and raised children of their own who are now fine adults. 

Sally was not a "career-focused" woman per se.  Instead, her priority with her job was working to help ends meet.   Later in her career, she found passion in her work, finding her calling as a Personnel Specialist for the City of Chesapeake for more than 25 years.   She retired in that position,  In her career, she administered a variety of tasks and had important responsibilities, including the exams for public safety officers.  In the latter years of her working life, she also was an active and engaged volunteer for the CERT program working closely with the EMS teams.  She threw herself into her volunteer work with the same vigor she showed in her professional capacity.

Always impeccably dressed, the only other indulgence I can recall was that she sported a "cool car" 280Z for a number of years.  A tall woman and one of stature both physically and personality, she sometimes had a challenge getting into the "cockpit" of that sporty, burgundy-colored 280Z coupe-especially when "dressed to the nines".   And she would usually let that 280Z know how she felt about that :).

Sally, like her mother, was a fine cook.  She prepared meals with only the freshest ingredients and most of the time most of us who ate them had a hard time stopping after we had our share of awesome Southern deliciousness.  ( In fact, I think that not long after becoming a member of the extended Floyd family I picked up the extra 20 pounds that I've never gotten rid of).

We rarely missed Sunday dinners at the Floyd's house.  And Sally and my father-in-law rarely missed Sunday church, Sunday football, NASCAR races, and afternoons shucking corn, peeling butter beans, and telling stories in the backyard.  And there were more than a few passionate debates about topics that varied from sports, fashion, food, friends, politics, and raising "young-uns".  Sally was a woman who you could count on to provide a well-constructed and passionate perspective on a huge variety of topics.  

And you always knew exactly where Sally stood on any topic.

Those are all dear memories now.  Nestled into a lifetime of good memories and recollections.  She lived a full and active life for more than 85 years.  Ultimately, despite a lifestyle and good genetics that allowed her to live well beyond most lifespans.  Speaking of memories, the insidious disease called Alzheimer's took much of her mental capacity away.  In the last few years, it didn't seem to take her memory as much as her ability to speak cogently and communicate.  You could see the frustration she felt when she understood what was being said, but couldn't seem to express in words what she felt about that.  And for a passionate communicator like Sally, that must have been unimaginable frustration.

I do feel blessed to have known her.  Having been a part of her family, and have had the benefit of her wisdom on countless tough choices needing to be made has made my life more meaningful and purpose-filled.  And seeing her work ethic has been an example to me and my kids.  She proved to us in words and deeds that one should always do more than asked-she always felt, and preached, that "going the extra mile" and doing more for others were the keys to a good life.  

So, how does Sally's life contribute to a meaningful discussion on healthier lifestyles and the secret to a happy and long life?  And what are lessons from her life that can be instructive for the purpose of improving population health en masse?

There are many lessons to be drawn from such an active and engaged life as Sally lived.  Not the least of which is that people can find revitalization in their work, even in the later years of their careers.  However, I will only mention the five key "lessons" in her life that mean the most to me and bring the most relevance to the context of this Blog posting hub's purpose:

Lesson 1:  We simply must and advance, move forward on the effective adoption of healthier lifestyles that can impact the reduction of the costs of healthcare that go into supporting chronic illnesses.  Until we do that, we will not be able to invest the resources and focus we need to find solutions for diseases such as Alzheimer's, cancer, heart disease, and others.

Lesson 2: We should always put other people first, and help them excel.  Engage with them, and spend time and energy on those you love.  Without a great social world, one can never fully have a life well-lived.

Lesson 3:  Work is important.  However, don't put everything you have into it but do the best you can.  Any job can become a "career" if you choose to be the best at it, or at least get better at it everyday.  Serving others, and becoming known for that, makes for a career that aids in living a better life.

Lesson 4: Become involved in community activities.  Local matters and places matter.  Look for ways to contribute-volunteer and become a leader in that role.  Your community needs it and your wellbeing will be the better for it as well.  And spirituality is important...seek engagement through that.

Lesson 5: Eat well and exercise often.  You don't have to become a "gym rat".  Walking every day, taking bike rides, preparing and eating healthy meals with lots of fresh vegetables will dramatically improve anyone's physical wellbeing.

If you have people like "Sally Floyd" in your life, let those people know how much they mean to you.  You will be amazed at how much that will mean to them and how much better you will feel yourself.

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