The Key to Longevity: Bacon or Resilience? (A Tribute to Grandma Gladys)

Pearl Cantrell is a 105-year-old Texas woman who credits bacon as the key to longevity. Yes. Bacon. She says she loves it and eats it every day, in fact. (See this article in the Huffington Post.) Without knowing Pearl at all, I would say she might get along with (the much younger) Marilyn Hagerty quite well. Okay, I don’t know Hagerty that well, but they both seem like happy-go-lucky women who have some sort of fame by association with food. (Too simple of a comparison?) Well, I happen to think that the pork-impassioned senior would also get along with my Grandma Gladys.

Here’s Grandma Gladys with one of her friends in Florida.

My Grandma Gladys is a 92-year-old spirited soul. She has spent the last how-ever-many years as a snowbird, traveling to Florida in the winter and spending her summers in Minnesota. Grandma Gladys loves her sunshine and sand. She also loves spending time with friends and family. And when she’s alone, she loves to play solitaire, do the crossword or simply take a nap. (Any computer savvy senior males out there? *Cough* *Cough* This is her dating ad, too.)

So, why bring up Grandma Gladys in ramblings apparently linked to longevity? She hasn’t been around for a century, yet. 92 isn’t that old, is it? And she does love bacon (who doesn’t), but she doesn’t eat it every day.

Mmmm. Bacon.

Grandma Gladys comes into play because I’ll be shocked if she dies before she hits 105. And bacon certainly isn’t the reason why. Grandma Gladys has this ability to find happiness in life no matter what. She’s resilient. That’s the magic ingredient for her longevity.

Grandma Gladys has been through it all. Let me list off just a few of the trials she’s faced:

  • The Great Depression
  • Loss of both of her parents before the age of 12
  • Loss of the love of her life two decades ago
  • Loss of a child to disease just four months after the death of her husband, my grandfather
  • Severe Colon Cancer with a 20 percent chance of survival
  • Macular Degeneration (and that other whole list of issues that happens as people age)

Through all of that, Grandma Gladys is still the life of the party at age 92. There’s no doubt this woman is strong and resilient. You could talk to anyone in my family and they’ll tell you that Grandma Gladys is a spit-fire of an elderly woman. Frail and weak are not words that come to mind. Grandma Gladys is a dirty joke telling, rump shaking, poker playing lady and she brings light to any room she steps in.

So, excuse me Pearl Cantrell… but I don’t really think it’s the bacon keeping you alive. Perhaps it’s the fact that bacon is a piece of your happiness and you indulge in that happiness every day? That, and I’m sure just like Gladys, you’ve been through it all.


Raise your glass to Grandma Gladys!

A few side notes about Grandma Gladys that are worthy of mentioning…

Grandma Gladys was raised in North Dakota. She remembers living on a ten acre farm where the Maple and Sheyenne Rivers join. She attended a small, one-room schoolhouse. It was there, in first grade, when she was forced to memorize this poem:

When you’re born in North Dakota,

It makes you bigger, broader, better.

Makes you know the worth of toil,

Makes you free as are her prairies,

And noble as her soil.

Also, Grandma Gladys’ great uncle, Alfred Selstedt, founded the first Lutheran church in the state of North Dakota. I believe the Maple-Sheyenne Lutheran Church still stands today. It’s also where Grandma Gladys’ parents are buried.


3 thoughts on “The Key to Longevity: Bacon or Resilience? (A Tribute to Grandma Gladys)

  1. What a wonderful story about your grandma Molly! I enjoyed reading it. I too, had a spit-fire grandma ( God rest her soul ) who passed on when she was a little over 100. She remained active all thru her life and she sounds much like your grandma. :)

Comments are closed.