As 94-year-old Judith Peters nears the end of her life, she has been doing a lot of reflection: Peters married her high school sweetheart, had four children and 23 grandchildren, and found her calling as a local newspaper reporter. But one regret still remains – she just wishes she had snacked smarter in between meals.
“I don’t know what I was thinking,” she tells her children as they gather around her bedside to say their goodbyes. “Sometimes I would just grab some processed crap, instead of a wholesome combination of protein and fiber. If only I could take it all back.”
Friends say Peters, who was healthy her entire life, was a pillar of her community, hosting Sunday dinners and summer cookouts where all were welcome.
“When I was new to the neighborhood, Judy made me feel at home,” says Bob Johnson, Peters’ neighbor of more than 40 years. “She just had a way of making everyone feel special and loved.”
But Peters feels she has failed morally in other ways.
“If I had focused more on healthy fats, I would have felt satiated for longer,” she whispered to her eldest daughter, in what would likely be her final words. “They always said, ‘Snack smarter, not harder.’ Why didn’t I listen? How hard would it have been to have half an avocado on whole-grain toast or a hard-boiled egg?”
“Remember that vacation we took to Maine when we were kids?” her daughter responded, holding Peters’ hand. “How beautiful the beach was at sunset?”
“Yes,” Peters replies. Her eyes glaze over as her heartbeats slows. “I remember that my blood sugar was spiking because I ate crackers as a snack that afternoon. Simple carbs! Can you imagine? I’ve been such an idiot in my life.”
“I remember the first time I ever laid eyes on you,” says Joseph Peters, Judith’s husband, as he leans forward to stroke his wife’s forehead. “You were the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. I knew in that moment that you were the love of my life.”
“You could stand to snack smarter too, Joe,” says Judith. “Don’t think I’ve forgotten the Nilla wafers. Make the change before it’s too late and you wind up like me.”
“Listen to me,” she barks, pulling her children closer. “Don’t make the same mistakes I made. If you feel hungry in between meals, reach for a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts. Keep pre-portioned baggies of berries in the freezer for a quick smoothie. Greek yogurt is your friend!”
“I love you, Mom,” says Emilie, through tears. “I’m sorry for all the times we fought. I would never be the person I am today without you.”
“If you love me, you’ll snack smarter,” Peters replies as the light left the beloved matriarch’s eyes. “And please – try to squeeze in short bouts of exercise throughout the day.”
After a brief moment of silence, Joe said, “Thank God.”