Family bonds are tight. My bond with my grandmother is special, and it started from my first days on this Earth.

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Grammy meets a days-old Matt Ryan. (Matt Ryan, Townsquare Media)

Today, August 23, 2021, is my grandmother Nell Thorston's 90th birthday. I've been going over in my head all day "90 years. That's a lot of life, and a lot of experiences." I may come off biased, but my grandmother is truly remarkable.

She was born in New Brunswick. With an older brother and a younger brother, she was the only girl. I came to find out today that she was born breech. There was a fear that she would have issues with her legs and with walking. Back in 1931, the best the doctor could recommend was that her parents enroll her in dance as soon as possible and hope for the best.

That's what they did. Not only did my grandmother have no problems walking, but she really took to dance and enjoyed and excelled at it. So much so that she became a dancing instructor.

Throughout her life, she was a runner-up for Miss New Jersey in the late-40s, a window dresser for Sears, and worked in the real estate field.

Like many who lived through the Depression, my grandmother learned to enjoy the little things in life and make the most of what you have, even if it's not that much.

I was taught young that material things aren't as important as some make them out to be. What's important are the memories you make.

From what I'm told, my grandmother and grandfather were always ahead of their time. They were the "fun couple." They were the types of people who would throw costume parties and invite people in looking like this.

Matt Ryan, Townsquare Media
My grandfather Ludlow Thorston at a costume party. (Matt Ryan, Townsquare Media)

I would say one of her biggest professional accomplishments was launching an art gallery with my grandfather. The Ludlow Thorston Gallery.

The Ludlow Thorston Gallery in Island Heights (Matt Ryan, Townsquare Media)

My grandfather, Ludlow Thrortson was an accomplished watercolor artist. He too had a full and exciting life. He was a public art school teacher to start and he and my grandmother would go to art shows on the weekend to sell his work. There were even offers to have other businesses and galleries sell his work. It was my grandmother who had the vision of opening their own art gallery. In addition to selling my grandfather's work, the gallery would offer cards, gifts, and crafts often with a Shore-theme.

On a wing and a prayer, the first Ludlow Thorston Gallery opened in Seaside Park in 1979.

Matt Ryan, Townsquare Media

It was a hit, and business was booming. Soon after another gallery in Bay Head would open, followed by a third in their hometown of Island Heights.

My grandmother doesn't give herself enough credit for the success of their businesses. Even though my grandfather isn't here to confirm it, I'm confident in saying she was the brains of the operation.

After decades of running three art galleries, my grandparents scaled back to the one in Island Heights. My grandfather passed away in 2019 at the age of 92. We all miss him tremendously. He told my grandmother that if anything ever happened to him, that he would like her to keep the business open. I'm proud to say that the art gallery is still open and operated solely by my 90-year-old grandmother.

The Ludlow Thorston Gallery (Matt Ryan, Townsquare Media)

She does the books, she picks out the matting and frames for the prints, she opens the shop every weekend. It's not something she has to do. She loves to do it. She loves seeing generations of families come into the gallery, enjoy my grandfather's art, and hear about their lives. His personality, life, and legacy live on in his paintings.

Matt Ryan, Townsquare Media

My grandmother is quite the artist herself. She has always enjoyed quilting. Here's one that she made for me when I was born.

Matt Ryan, Townsquare Media

My grandmother dabbled in painting for much of her life, but it wasn't until last year that she decided to put one of her paintings into print.

Nell Thorston and her original work "The Dreamer." (Matt Ryan, Townsquare Media)

My grandmother's painting is titled "The Dreamer." It is a stunning piece of artwork that I'm happy she decided to share.

Grammy has been my number one fan from the beginning. Not only in life, but in my radio adventures. While 94.3 The Point's music isn't exactly up her alley, she still listens to me every day and even plays along with the Nearly Impossible Question. She'll often text me her guesses as the contest is going. Yes, my 90-year-old grandmother texts. How cool is that?

She may call herself Pollyanna at times, but it's her positive outlook on life that may have allowed her to make the journey to 90.

My Mom made a good point yesterday when we were celebrating. "How often do you hear that you're picking your mother up from work to take her to her 90th birthday party?"

My grandmother's compassion, kindness, creativity, and strength make her the most exceptional person I know. I'm blessed that I still have her in my life. She also keeps me in check. When I'm having a rough day, I can always count on Grammy to cheer me up and share her wisdom.

My grandfather had a saying that my grandmother lives by. In life, "keep it light and keep it moving."

She will never forget to tell me to "look up." Literally. Look at the sky, the stars, the moon. There's always a show.

Happy birthday, Grammy. You are loved. The world is a better place with you in it.

Based on my grandmother, New Jersey must be ranked pretty high. LOOK: The States Where People Live The Longest

Stacker used data from the 2020 County Health Rankings to rank every state's average life expectancy from lowest to highest. The 2020 County Health Rankings values were calculated using mortality counts from the 2016-2018 National Center for Health Statistics. The U.S. Census 2019 American Community Survey and America's Health Rankings Senior Report 2019 data were also used to provide demographics on the senior population of each state and the state's rank on senior health care, respectively.

Read on to learn the average life expectancy in each state.