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The 8 Bad Habits That Took My Mothers Life

I remember it like it was yesterday. Sunday, December 30, 1990 was a day that would change my life forever—it was the day that I would lose my Mother.


I’ve shared about this before, but what I haven’t shared is what exactly happened. What would cause my Mom to die at such a young age?

Took My Mothers Life

The answer: heart disease.

Took My Mothers Life

As any motherless child would, I began to look for answers as I grew older. Where did she go wrong? How did such a thing happen to her? The more I reflected on her day-to-day activities, the more it became clear to me that as wonderful a person my Mother was, when it came to her health, she had bad habits. A lot of bad habits. As a young child, only a few of them were obvious to me. The rest I would not realize until I became an adult in charge of my own health. It is those habits that contributed to her not being here today.

Took My Mothers Life

She Smoked.

I still recall the brand crystal clear: the green pack (or box) of Benson and Hedges Menthol. I know the name well because she would always send my brother to buy them for her. If my brother wasn’t around, then it was me. I remember being happy when the age requirements to purchase tobacco products went into effect, so that future generations of children would not have to be forced into buying something for their parents that they knew was bad for their heart.

Took My Mothers Life

She Rarely Drank Water.

As far back as I can remember, I can probably count on one hand how many times I saw my mother with a cup of water, or drinking any form of water at all. And we all know the key role that hydration plays in helping the heart pump and perform its job more easily.

Took My Mothers Life

She Never Paid Attention to Sodium Intake.

She didn’t drink water, but she did drink a lot of her favorite beverages, V-8 juice. Sounds good, except the original V8 juice has over 800mg of sodium per can. She also enjoyed lunchmeat, and things like canned mini-sausages and sardines and crackers for lunch. When processed foods gained popularity, they became the ‘go-to’ meal in our home on days she was tired from work. TV dinners and other foods that touted a quick and easy meal filled our pantry, with sodium counts for each item well within the thousands per serving. She didn’t know that consuming too much sodium would open the door for heart disease.

Took My Mothers Life

She Never Exercised. Never.

Mom went to work. Mom came home. Nothing more. When she got home from work, she would sit down and watch the soaps. Then the local news. Then the national news. Then the local news again. She would make dinner, then sit back down to eat and watch her favorite evening TV shows and talk on the phone while ironing or folding laundry until bedtime.

The home we lived in when I was a child was located directly across the street from a park. Yet I never saw her go out for a walk or a jog. She never tried her hand at the tennis courts that could be seen right out of our front window. Mom was a homebody, and she was perfectly content to sit out on our front porch or by the window and watch the people go by.

My siblings and I used to roller skate in our basement, and I do recall Mom giving it a go a few times early on, but that’s about it. I wish she would have done it more, because it would have reduced—and probably even prevented—her high blood pressure.

Took My Mothers Life

She Never Got Enough Sleep.

My Mom woke up early every day – even on weekends. Her work shift was early. She’d get up well before sunrise to get my siblings and I ready for school, make breakfast, and drop us off at the sitter’s house prior to driving to work. Her nights were long because she would stay up late to prepare everything for the next day. And studies have shown that lack of sleep can affect heart health—especially for African Americans.

Took My Mothers Life

She Rarely Ate Fruits and Vegetables

Meals rich in fruits and vegetables reduce the risks of chronic diseases, but we didn’t see them much in our house. Sure there were vegetables part of our evening dinners, but that’s about it. And they were often canned, which meant more sodium. She loved green tomatoes, but she would fry them in a skillet and season them with salt and pepper prior to eating. Speaking of fried….

Took My Mothers Life

She Cooked Foods with Salt, Grease, and Butter, and Fried Almost Everything.

Bottles of old used grease sitting on the kitchen counter? Yep, that was our household. “It makes for the best flavor,” Mom would say. She said the same for bacon, and ham-hocks, and fatty portions of meat. Pork chops, chicken, fish – all of it was fried to Mom’s best. Be it cooked on the stove top or in the oven, everything was thoroughly seasoned with regular salt, seasoned salt, Accent, Mrs. Dash, and a host of other seasonings that were a far cry from natural herbs and spices. If she would have simply changed the way she prepared most of the foods we ate, it probably would have saved her life.

Took My Mothers Life

She Never Took Time For Herself – She Was Always Stressed Out.

Mom never had a ‘Girl’s Night Out,’ and she never went to see movies, plays, or concerts. She never went to a spa, or got her nails done. She never took a single trip on a getaway weekend or vacation. The only thing she knew was juggling being a worker, paying bills, being a Mom, and taking care of her family. So much stress piled up on one person is not very good for the heart.

Took My Mothers Life

Confession: I am guilty of some of these bad habits, too.

Took My Mothers Life

I rarely take time for myself, my sleep habits could use some help, And I definitely need to improve in the exercise category. My Mom left this world at only 53 years old, and I was only 15 when she passed away. When I look into the eyes of my 4 children, it is a reminder that I don’t want history to repeat itself. I want to live to see all of them grow and thrive. I want to live to see them have families of their own.


That is why I was honored to be selected as an official Go Red Blogger Ambassador for the American Heart Association. Not only do I want to keep reminding myself of the things that I need to do and change about my lifestyle to keep heart disease at bay, but I also have lots of female family members and friends who are my age with children and families. It is my earnest hope that all of us grow old and live healthier lives—together.

Took My Mothers Life

“Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined.”

~American Heart Association

Took My Mothers Life

I would like to strongly urge each and every one of you to show your support of heart health awareness and the issue of heart disease in women by getting involved in Go Red for Women – National Wear Red Day February 7, 2014. Wear red, and encourage everyone you know to do the same. Participate a Go Red event in your area, Turn your social media profiles pictures red and share photos of yourself and others wearing red on the National Day. Give a donation to help fund educational programs and health screenings for women across the country.

8-bad-habits-that-took-my-mothers-life-GoRedSTLTook My Mothers Life

This February 7, lend your voice to reducing heart disease in women. Go Red, and help save lives by spreading the word.


~To Learn more about Go Red for Women, visit:

*Go Red for Women website

*Go Red for Women onFacebook

*Go Red for Women on Twitter

Took My Mothers Life



I am proud to be a Go Red Blogger Ambassador for the American Heart Association, using social media to drive awareness of the fight against heart disease in women in order to live healthier, stronger and longer lives.






American Heart Association Events

Wife. Mom. Believer. Writer. Advocate.

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Wow. Powerful piece. I’m guilty of a lot of these habits. Definitely need to sound the alarm because the age is getting younger and younger. Thank you.

Kesha Brown

Congrats on being selected boo boo!! Looking back at our lifestyle growing up, I see very similar things happened in our household as well. Amongst others you’ve listed, my mom also smoked and I remember as a child asking her to stop but she never did until last year when the doc told her it’s time for chemo and radiation because she has lung cancer. Needless to say I was mad at her and scared at the same time but that gave me pause. What am I doing to myself on purpose that could cause me to live a less… Read more »

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