Sixty five years ago my mother said, “Stand up straight.” “Stop slouching in your chair.” “You are going to have round shoulders like your grandmother.” I knew she was right, so I sat up straight. I walked without looking at my feet with a book on my head. I sat with my back up against the chair and my feet flat on the floor. I didn’t cross my knees and sat as proper as I could. I didn’t want to look like my grandmother.

Even after I left my home in Pennsylvania, I could hear my mother “nagging” me to sit up straight. I saw my grandmother in Indiana more when I attended Purdue and she never nagged me. But, I could see the hump in her back and she often walked with a cane. Besides the normal cooking and cleaning that grandmothers do, she sewed clothes and played the organ. I sat and listened to her beautiful music and didn’t notice that she was hunched over the key board. Arthritis began to play tricks on her hands which seemed like a reason to play the piano less and less, but it could very well have been her back was complaining as well. My grandmother never complained to me and even at 20 I was unaware of the potential for pain in sitting for hours playing the organ.

I followed my mother’s advice because I didn’t want to look like my grandmother. All the practice in walking, sitting, standing, kneeling, lifting, and moving in general was done, so I could look as beautiful as my cheerleader mother. Never mind that I was already heavier than her and three inches taller and “blessed” with an hour-glass figurer at a time when Twiggy was the model every teenager strived to look like.