Survival Guide for Old Age: Sequel #2

My follow-up on “The Survival Guide for Old Age” is almost complete. The first sequel covered most of the points of interest to me and my age group. In this final work, Sequel #2, the scope widens. Looking back, I recognize that over and over as I wound my way through life, big changes entered the picture.

In the summer of 1937 my Dad moved our family from the farm to the city. We traded the freedom and expanse of the country for a small city apartment – and the opportunity to continue our education. My sister started grade 10 in a High School. I walked a block down a city street, and enrolled in grade 9 in a Junior High School. The country one-room school’s enrollment was about 14 children. My new school was an old three-storey brick building with 400 students! I was in shock – as if I were in a free-fall over a cliff. At any age, drastic change can be traumatic. It takes time to adjust.

I was on a steep learning curve, that first year in the city, but the stars were in my favour. My home-room teacher was an excellent educator, and a caring and compassionate person. No one in his classes went without help and understanding, including myself. With his guidance I learned to adjust to the changes. He also opened my eyes to the endless opportunities education offered, and excited me about further scholastic ventures. My parents were delighted.  

In the midst of all the strangeness, I slowly found a group of girls I liked and with whom I felt comfortable. This friendship grew over the year, and when High School followed, we entered that new arena as a group. This lesson accompanied me throughout my life. No matter where you go, the people you enjoy and need will be there – just keep looking. Sort of a “Look and ye shall find” philosophy. Works even in old age!

The last thing I remember about that year was the change in my attitude about my new surroundings. The move from the familiar farm to the strange city was something I dreaded. Before the year ended, the new surroundings were stimulating and enjoyable. Things don’t always work out that way. Care is important. I could have become an addicted smoker as were some of my fellow students. Or, I could have learned the art of “snitching” candy from an open bin while a partner bought a chocolate bar. Both of these activities were considered both smart and acceptable. Most adults would agree they are dangerous steps down a path leading to trouble. The line in our class—between those who would do these things, and those who would not—was clear. There is no doubt in my mind that my family’s teachings and practices gave me the strength to avoid the temptations that existed – as temptations always do.

The next big change was when I left home and registered as a student at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton. It was in September of 1940. Now a young adult, I found this change not as traumatic. My sister started university in Edmonton at the same time. Having a family member close at hand was comforting.

Speaking of my own state of mind, I felt quite adult. I was self-aware to a limited degree. I recognized a few of my characteristics, some positive, some negative. On the positive side was that, this time, change seemed stimulating. I expected to enjoy my life at university, and did, and that included making friends. It was clear what my scholastic interests were and when the curriculum allowed choice, I jumped at the chance. I knew what I loved to study and chose those courses without hesitation.

On the negative side, I still battled recurring bouts of insecurity. I craved verbal assurance, and continued to be impatient – with myself and with others.

How could both sides be so clear? Very easily it seems. That’s life – two sides to every coin. I was gradually learning to accept myself. It appeared to be life – and I just had to deal with it! Some unseen force seemed to be saying: “Deal with it. If you don’t, be prepared to pay the price.” Did I think it out like that? Of course not, but I did begin to realize that the closer I came to making good decisions, the better things went, and the happier I was. Not exactly rocket science, but growing up does not happen overnight.

Not overnight – but by three years later I had changed a lot. While I don’t spend much time reliving the first year’s shaky scholastic average, some of my later decisions were much sounder. It was then I formed a bond with a young man. In 1945 we married, and had 65 years together. Life continued to challenge us, we continued to learn. Together, we made many good decisions and some poor ones, but our decision to marry was the best of the pack.

Do I have advice to give to generations who follow? Very little. There is no fool-proof map for life. Each person is unique. Consider: Each person has a different background. Our world has countless races, beliefs, religions, talents, interests, goals, education levels and economic realities. Has life taught me anything that might be universal? I doubt it, but there is something else I can share: my beliefs. They form the creed which guides my life. This may be of interest or use to some. It follows:

I believe that at any stage of my life, I have the right to expect these things, and the duty to do what I can to make them happen:

…Believe life is meant to be enjoyed.
…Know myself. Recognize my faults, know my strengths, and always be honest with myself.
…Strive to reach my best potential. Celebrate my successes, accept my defeats, and move on.

Charge on, my friends, wherever you are on life’s path. It’s worth the effort, I promise you, and …… Enjoy!


Filed under This & That

27 Responses to Survival Guide for Old Age: Sequel #2

  1. Marjorie, your words lift me up and challenge me. Today, despite its challenges, I will celebrate all that I can find of goodness that the day brings. May you be blessed for having passed on your experience and wisdom.
    Sincere thanks,

    • Marjorie

      Hello Laurna – Today was one example of what life dishes out. A young woman and her lively, lovely 8 year old girl spent the morning with me. Much laughter, a great walk, treats at Starbucks, talking — Now they are gone, and I am headed for my chair and a nap. That’s got to be a blessing!
      Thank you for your support.

  2. Ralph Gibson

    Nicely done, Mom ! Food for thought, as always.

    • Marjorie

      I’m a bit slow, Ralph, at replying. Add to my usual pace, warm and sunny weather, and not much gets done. Your comments are encouraging – thank you.

  3. Morag Dornian

    Marjorie, thank you for sharing your wisdom with us.

    • Marjorie

      Another Calgarian heard from! Very nice to have the contact, Morag. If you changed “wisdom” to “opinion” there is a distinct possibility that you would be nearer to the truth. Nevertheless, it is comforting!

  4. Jim Taylor

    Marjorie, you touch on an important point — self-awareness. We can, in fact, be aware of ourselves, our interests, our frailties, almost as if we were an outsider observing ourselves. You seem to have had that gift from fairly early in life. Many people never attain it. If only it were a teachable skill, many of the conflicts in the world might be avoided.
    Jim T

    • Marjorie

      Jim – regarding your comment on self awareness. I find it very interesting. You describe it as a “gift”, and perhaps it is, but not always a comfortable one. What I become “aware” of, often does not please me. Seems to me it is usually a prod to change or improve – and everyone finds that difficult. I am more of an introvert than an extrovert. Perhaps that is the answer, and that would change this to a character trait rather than a skill. Good, bad or neutral I’m stuck with it, and hope those about me will be tolerant.

  5. I like your mentioning changing your own attitude. This is one of the most beneficial skills in life.

    • Marjorie

      I agree, Judith, and probably one of the hardest skill to acquire – even partially acquire! Work at it early. The older we get, the easier it is to be set in our ways.

  6. Alison Uhrbach

    Once again, you do me a great service by making me pause and think. I need to learn to accept that you are right – we have very little advice to give to others. Their lives are their own to live (especially our grown kids, eh?) And it’s so true, there IS no fool proof map for life.
    As for knowing our own strengths and weaknesses – accepting them – and moving on! YES! Life is short, and I’m feeling like I need to get moving – or I’ll miss the chance.
    Take care, you’re in my thoughts and prayers. Alison

    • Marjorie

      You say that I do you a great service! Have you ever stopped to think what your responses and musings do for me? Learning, point of view, exchange of ideas are vital for both writer and reader if anything is to be gained. Even when one runs into someone who completely disagrees, it makes one stop and thing and reconsider the chance that your opponent could be right!
      Having said that, it is also very encouraging to encounter someone who agrees, or finds something useful in your work. Many thanks, Alison.

  7. Barry

    Not an easy route to follow but it sure would be helpful
    “the duty to do what I can to make them happen:

    …Believe life is meant to be enjoyed.
    …Know myself. Recognize my faults, know my strengths, and always be honest with myself.
    …Strive to reach my best potential. Celebrate my successes, accept my defeats, and move on.”

    • Marjorie

      Barry – I agree, you know – believing or knowing is one thing, doing quite another. Even even “Practice makes perfect” is unattainable! Still, for me, knowing my goal and trudging on, keeps me on my path. Whenever I do attain a degree of success – do I feel good!!
      A question – of the three goals listed – is it possible to pick one as the most important? (to you, not the world in general). I do not need to know which one, just if you think they can be separated to get results, or if they go as a package?

  8. Tanya

    Thank you, I love reading your posts. I don’t get anywhere as much time with my Gram as I’d like, but reading about your life (and hers!) makes her feel close by.

    • Marjorie

      Tanya – I’m delighted to hear from another one of the clan, and so glad you enjoy my blog. You were visiting Red Deer recently, and know my sister was looking forward to seeing you. Keep reading the blog. There is a new series coming up that you may like.

  9. Norma Wheeler

    Hello Marjorie;
    Another interesting read. I was wondering if I could also share your blog with Jasmine and Matthew. They may enjoy it. I am glad you are keeping well and enjoying life.
    Love Norma Wheeler

  10. Kathleen

    Love you, Gram!!

    • Marjorie

      Kathleen – Great to hear from you. In the middle of your busyness, you have time to read my blog. May things go well. Love from Gram.

  11. Joan Haig

    Marjorie you never fail to inspire and help put our own lives in perspective.
    Thank you so much.

    • Marjorie

      Joan – So very nice to hear from the Haig crowd, and thanks for the comment. You may not believe this, but there is a letter in the mail to you!

  12. Yvonne

    Marjorie – it is always so nice to ‘hear your voice’ and it was certainly lovely to see you in person in June. I hope summer time has been enjoyable on the coast, I know it has been a bit of a scorcher for everyone out there.
    Farming this year is presenting it’s usual challenges: late spring, followed by crops drying up and then significant hail damage in our area. But this is what we signed up for and with any luck it will build character!

    • Marjorie

      Yvonne – Now that’s the attitude farmers have to develop to survive. Hopefully, in the long run, it will build more than character! My June trip to the farm for that special day was wonderful. Thank you all so much.

  13. Joyce Schuman

    Marjorie, you’re amazing. I’ve forwarded this to my granddaughter who has just transferred colleges. Your experience is that of every generation. Keep writing, dear friend. You have much to offer.

    • Marjorie

      I agree, Joyce. You can dip back into the Torah or our Old Testament and see the similarity. The times, settings, and places may change, but the life challenges we encounter are remarkably similar. We still question the purpose to life and seek to determine what our roles should be. My metaphor is the path of life. I’m on the path, always seeking, always traveling, and so far never arriving.

  14. Marjorie, you continue to inspire me to always reconcile the way the world is with how I would like it to be. Great extrapolation on an important topic.

    Thank you!

    • Marjorie

      Bruce – Have no doubt of how much your skills help me to accept my world as it is. My computer, iPad, and fancy telephone can often baffle me. If I give up, that will cut me off from the activities that add so much to my life. Your help keeps me learning, writing, and enjoying my life as it is. My beloved family are great cheerleaders, surrounding me with love and help. I am sure they much appreciate the patient, technical support you add so generously.