It seems almost taboo to discuss aging, but this week, the Two Row Times is tackling that topic. Lois Porter shared a view of aging that did not focus on the perceived “horrors” of getting wrinkles and grey hair. Rather, to her, aging is about softening the tough exterior and learning to give and receive love.
In addition to raising her own six children, Porter has raised four other children, as well. But Porter’s life has not been without its challenges. One of her sons passed away a few years ago, and another son has a serious disease. Another of her sons was in a car accident that has left him disabled. Her husband had been the sole survivor in an airplane crash. He was severely burned and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder for years.
She says that friends have asked her how she did it, and Porter says that in life, you just put your head down and barrel through your challenges; you make things work. She says having six to ten children to raise was not a real challenge. She has 13 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren, some of whom are not her biological grandchildren, but she shares stories of how their involvement in her life has been fulfilling. She believes the Creator puts people in our path for a reason.
Porter says she has learned that it is imperative to learn how to give and receive love, especially with the children that we are gifted with. She sees this as our most important job. She says that those children need to know they are loved, so that they can grow up self-assured and feeling secure. They will face challenges of their own and they need to have confidence in themselves to overcome their challenges.
Porter says she was lucky to have good parents. Their love and guidance gave her the confidence to be bold and assertive. She says this came from knowing that she was protected. She was taught to believe in the Creator. It helped to know that we “owned all the land, too.” She did not put a lot of stress on the impact of racism in her past, but it is evident that race relations were a challenge she had to learn to mitigate.
On the topic of body image, Porter says that even as a young girl, she and her friends struggled with body image issues. She feels this has been consistent throughout the ages. She acknowledges that in her youth, the pressure did not come from the media as much as it does today. She says that it was more from how you were treated by others. The treatment was better for those who were attractive and had a fair complexion, especially for her friends that went to residential school. They dealt with the harsh treatment sooner in life and the impact on them was long lasting.
Porter says that it is usually around age 50 that people start to be concerned about their health and wellness. By age 50, you become keenly aware of your own mortality because many of your friends and family are deceased. You start watching your sugar and salt intake; you quit smoking and drinking alcohol. But she says that she also learned that emotional well-being is just as important. Porter has been certified in Reality Therapy Choice Theory and this has helped her understand the role our emotions play in maintaining good health.
Porter has always worked and she is famous for her cooking skills. She says that in retirement, she realized it was important to remain active. She takes her vitamins, she gardens and she gets to enjoy time with her family. She is actively involved with the Six Nations Health Foundation and she supports initiatives, such as the recent Six Nations Women of the Grand River project.