Anna’s Story – Instalment 2

The world changes – always!  When Anna returns to Vancouver after the wonderful year she spent in Shetland Islands, she is not the same little girl.  A year older and much more understanding about her parents’ love for their childhood home, she still is glad to be back with her friends and familiar surroundings.

It is a troubling time for our old world.  On September 1st 1939, World War II starts.  Well trained and obedient, Hitler’s troops sweep across Europe.  In 1940 alone these countries fall to them: Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, and Jersey/Guernsey (British islands in the ocean channel between Europe and England), and Norway.  Soon, almost all of Europe is under Hitler’s command.  Continue reading

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Anna’s Story

Long, long ago a little girl is listening to her parents.  “We start tomorrow on a long trip, Anna.  It will take us home to the Shetland Islands.  Your grandparents want to see you.  They don’t have any other grandchildren.”

“Why not, Mummy?  I have friends with grandparents, and they have lots of grandchildren.  And why do you call that place home?  Vancouver is home!”

Mrs. Malcolmson sighs.  “Be patient, child.  We’ll explain it all to you as we travel.”

The trip begins, and long it was.  Anna has a lot of time to ask her questions.  A long train ride and much to see, with questions to match. shetlands-1

“What’s that?  Why are there trees here?”

“It’s different today, where have the trees gone?”

“This is a tiny town, do the kids have a school?””

“What’s an island?  How did Shetland get into the ocean?”

“Will we get there tonight?”

Whenever Anna falls asleep, her patient parents heave a sigh of relief and doze off themselves.

The days and weeks roll by, a continent traversed and an ocean covered.  Their ship reaches land.  Ferries take over along the shallow coastal waters.  Finally, after a long night’s travel, the trip is over.

“Anna, wake up, we’re here.  I see your grandparents on the dock.”  The sleepy little girl slowly opens her eyes, “The ferry has stopped, Mummy.  Where are we?”

And so the year’s visit begins.  Anna’s world expands – loving grandparents and other family members everywhere.  The language is strange, English words mixed with an unfamiliar Scandinavian dialect.  The countryside is different from any she has ever seen before.  Even the food surprises her.  It is plain and cooked with no frills; milk, eggs, potatoes, fish, and something her relatives called “reested mutton”.  She sees no fruit trees at all.

shetlands-2

When the time comes for the Malcomsons to leave, Anna cries.  Her Daddy hugs her and says, “Don’t cry, dear, you’ll be back some day, I promise you.  It’s been your home for only a year, but the pull to return will always be there.”

Time proves him right.  Anna revisits the Shetland Islands four times after that first experience.  Something calls her back to the Islands of her forebears, a sense of being at home.  Her life has been enriched by an enduring feeling of belonging.

shetlands-3


Installment 1 of “Anna’s Story”.  Join us for further glimpses.

 

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The Lasting Effect of Experience

“In this beloved residence the opportunity to make friends is there for the taking.”

Does that look familiar?  Probably.  Those are the words with which I started my last essay, but contrary opinions were expressed by some of my friends who found their entry to residential living difficult.  Most of us are here of our own accord.  Most of us have gone through the wrenching business of closing down a home, and deciding what to take and what to discard.  Several, like me, have moved from one city to another.  Despite our similarities, our reactions to the move are different.  Why?   Continue reading

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A New Life

In this beloved residence the opportunity to make friends is there for the taking. Together we form not only a place to live, but a community – a special one. The majority of us are old. Instinctively I reach out to others.

As the years lived increase, the years left to me decrease. I cherish my friends, reach out to my acquaintances, and lean on both as I travel the path ahead. To borrow from the old Maxwell House coffee ad that their brew was “Good to the last drop”, I have a different claim. Life is capable of being “Good to the last day.”

Let my New Life thrive!

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Roses

“God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December,” proclaimed Sir James Matthew Barrie sometime in the early 1900s.  Born in 1860 he lived a full thoughtful life, with his share of sorrow and success.  His saying naturally resonates with me: At 94, I can smell those roses!  With open arms, I welcome home the memories triggered by the scent.

Life has no set formula.  We live our lives differently, and we age differently.  One of the common experiences is realizing that age steals many of the abilities and interests once enjoyed.  The good news is that the problems I encounter as the years pass are manageable.  The joys I experience continue to accumulate.  Now deep into my December, as countless wonderful memories drift in, I pick my roses, contentedly.

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Open My Eyes that I May See

My mind is a mystery to me.  In it is stored a library of miscellaneous facts, stories, ideas, and emotions.  Anything which flows past its grasping reach is gathered in, filed, and kept for use as required!

Walking across the front lobby, I glance out the front door and windows and stop and gasp.  There, spread before me, is a scene beautiful beyond description.  Framing the far side of our covered drive-in entrance, there is a flower bed.  It features a pair of unusual hydrangea bushes, with huge white blossoms.

Hydrangea

Photo by Liz Koerner

 

I know they are there.  I know they are beautiful, but they hardly register anymore.  My glance is usually focused on which taxi is waiting to discharge its customer, or the mailman with the day’s mail.  What jarred me awake today?  What caused my mind to dig in its files, and come up with the first line of a hymn I sang eighty-four years ago – “Open My Eyes That I May See”?

This is an interesting day.  So quiet and calm, the sunlight that filters through the surrounding foliage lights up the hydrangea bushes, and the light breeze makes them dance.  Today those blossoms might as well be saying, “Look at me, look at me.”

I think to myself that there is no denying that I have been looking at those hydrangeas without really seeing them.  How much pleasure and appreciation I missed with this lack of awareness.

Hydrangea

Photo by Liz Koerner

My thanks to Liz Koerner, Vancouver artist, for these photos.

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Help!!

“Do you need help?”

His voice rings out, jarring me out of my concentration.  The path is steep, and my walker’s basket loaded.  I cling to the railing with one hand and my walker with the other, picking my way toward the pathway below.

“Hang on, I’m coming.”

The young man is not waiting for a reply from me.  He parks his bike and is sprinting up the path.  Sizing up the situation, he decides what to do.   Continue reading

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Confidence . . .

. . . That Bridging the Cultural Gap Can Succeed

I shift my weight again, trying to find a comfortable spot on the oak bench.  Then the judge enters and the ceremony begins: the one in which a young man in my family will become a citizen of Canada.

As I listen to the preliminaries, I realize that although I’ve been a Canadian from birth, I’ve never been to one of our citizenship ceremonies before.  Looking around the room with interest, I see a few white faces, but many more in shades of brown.    Continue reading

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The Island World of the Philippines

A few days ago I knew very little about the Philippines.  If asked, I would have said it was a group of islands in the South Asian seas, and the home of very nice people, if the staff in my seniors’ residence are anything to go by!  But that was a few days ago . . .

How It All Started

Marnelli is serving our table.  She is a small, cheerful, friendly individual who moves quickly.  I make a casual query about the Philippines.

“Which of those many islands is your home, Marnelli?”

She tries to answer.  Seeing that we do not understand she laughs and says, “I’ll be back.”  Continue reading

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Morality and Multiculturalism

The world is changing!!!

Despite the excited punctuation, this is not news: Change is the one constant mankind knows.  Countless millennia ago some venturesome animal stood up on its back legs and stepped out into a new life, never to be the same again.

Today, I sense that my world is poised to plunge again onto uncharted ground.  No longer do different peoples live relatively isolated from one another.  I lift my phone and connect with a friend in a different culture, as easily as if she lives next door.   Continue reading

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