My father died at 59, my mother at 74, my brother at 43, my sister at 50. Both grandmothers died at 55. One grandfather died at 72, another at 79. My parents were born in 1919 and 1924 and all my grandparents in the 1800s!
Sometimes you look like an ancestor, or you have a similar talent, maybe you use hand gestures like they did even though you never met them.
There's a lot of talk of nature and nurture and even some talk that during life experiences people change their DNA to include traumatic events and fears, tendencies, and personality so that you could carry a fear of heights from grandmother's fall down a mountain.
My immediate family passed on due to life choice-related illnesses from excess or smoking, sedentary lifestyle, overweight, alcohol, complications of stomach stapling. Those examples helped to change the course of my decisions.
I know what will happen disease-wise if I do unhealthy behaviors because of the genetic propensity. For example, in my family there is no lung cancer, but smokers died of emphysema. I can expect if I smoked that would be my genetic path.
You know what your genes will do if you eat poorly or live under great stress, but your genes have another side, as well. If you do healthy things, make good choices, have a good attitude about the threat of stressful situations, your genes could make you a master athlete, very long-lived, with great stamina.
For instance, I am almost all Scandinavian and a little UK. I have a tolerance for cold, but also love to bathe in ice water. I love oily fish and pickled foods. If I don't watch my stress, remain sedentary, and eat foods outside of the native diet, I know I will be very big in the belly and have cardiac disease.
But, when I lead a healthy lifestyle, I have unbelievable stamina. I'm not a sprinter. I'm a long-hauler in that I can exercise for hours and hours. I am also strong, built with great musculature that allows me to be a bit of a sherpa. I also have genius IQ that runs in the family, so challenging my mind is critical. I have straight teeth, good hair and skin, and a fine hand-eye coordination.
So, genes have a weird way of predicting a future depending on the lifestyle you choose. There's no fate involved unless you decide to lead a lifestyle that supports that disease process.
me at 20 grandma at 20
Although my mother's mother and I started out with similar looks at 20, by the time we hit 50, things changed. I led a healthier lifestyle in the suburbs and she lived in the country with a hard lifestyle.
Where I have inherited her take-charge attitude, I did not pick up her habits along the way that had her passing on at the tender age of 55.
So, when you look at your family genetics and ponder the ages people died at and worry it's a fate, it most definitely isn't. You are the fact that controls the bad genes, but also the good genes. Turn on the potential, hold down the detrimental.