Mother, Mother

Study: The more time you spend with mom, the longer she’ll live.

Like many of you, I don’t talk to my mother as often as I should.

However, a recent study circulating on the Internet says we all better step up our game.

According to the study, “loneliness is a significant factor in the decline of quality of life in older adults, including risk of depression, cognitive impairment and health problems like coronary artery disease, and may even lead to an earlier death.”

Specifically, the study looked at 1,600 adults with an average age of 71. Researchers found that 23 percent of participants who reported being lonely died within six years of the study – while only 14 percent of those who reported having companionship died during the same six- year period.

I’d like to think I’ve done a decent job of keeping up with my mom through the years, but it’s certainly not often enough.

I left home after my senior year of high school and but for a brief return during the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college, I haven’t lived under the same roof as my parents since George H.W. Bush was in the White House.

Years ago, when I owned and published my own newspaper back in my hometown in NE Oklahoma, I used to drop in to visit my parents most Sunday nights while I was out making my late-night deliveries.

We’d catch up on the kids and work and talk about family and politics and anything and everything under the sun.

My mother has always been a good listener – which is a good thing because my father won’t let her get a word in edgewise.

They have been married for nearly 58 years and any woman who is brave enough – and patient enough – to put up with my father for that long is a saint in my book. (Love you, Dad).

My mother is incredibly thoughtful and determined. She also has a gentle heart and is loyal to the core.

A few years ago, my oldest sister – my parents’ first-born child – passed away and I watched in agony as my mother’s heart broke into pieces.

I can’t imagine what she must have felt, but somehow or another my mother kept moving forward. But that’s what she has always done. Through all of the trials and tribulations that life has thrown her way, she has managed somehow to persevere and hold her head high.

These days, as the years – and miles – wear on, I find myself making more and more calls to my parents asking about real life problems – including how much sugar to put into my mom’s homemade chocolate chip cookie recipe or what kind of adhesive sealant works best around the tub.

It breaks my heart to think about the day when neither my mother nor father will be there to pick up the phone, but I know that day will eventually come and then I’m going to have to find someone else to help me with the cookie recipe.

But until then, I’m going to do my best to call and visit my mother as often as possible. And I suggest you do the same.

Gustafson is the editor and publisher of Signature Magazine. His columns often appear under the “Walking the Line” title – an homage to the late, great Johnny Cash, who also loved his mama.