Tag Archives: aging

Unexpected Glimpses

The mind is a wonderful and fearsome thing. Mine, for example, dredges up unexpected glimpses—memories, good and bad—of incidents which have shaped my life. Some are events. Some are encounters with people – family, friends, or strangers. All have been emotional, engulfing my heart and challenging my intellect.

There seems to be no order to these glimpses. My mind skips through my life, picks out events, and presents them for my attention. Sometimes they are helpful for resolving a current problem, but many times not. Something just triggers a recollection. Some of the events that my mind will not drop go back to my early twenties.   Continue reading


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When Someone You Love Dies . . .

They were gathered together, family and friends, needing the comfort and love of those who understood the gap this death left. Memories were shared, stories told, and chuckles heard. Some tears were choked back. Finally Doug spoke with a voice he strove to keep steady.

“When someone you love dies, you lose the person, but the relationship lives on.”

A hush fell on the group. Some nodded. One chap put his arm around Doug’s shoulders and said, “Bob would be happy to know his son feels that way, Doug. Hang onto that insight. It will be a tie to him that will be priceless.”

In the last year I was reading one of Jim Taylor’s blogs. He wrote of the death of his lifelong friend, Bob Little, and recounted the statement made by Doug. My response to it surprised me. A jumble of emotions poured over me. Sadness, joy, pain, frustration – all were there. Above all, though, there was a feeling of recognition.   Continue reading


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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.   Continue reading


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Survival Guide for Old Age: Sequel #1

As preparation for writing this sequel, I reread the original essay carefully. Thoughts crowded into my mind. What is the best way of presenting my stance? Can I even tackle this challenge?

But I am at least qualified to offer the memories accumulated from my own long lifetime. Besides that, my residence is a senior citizens’ home, an interesting launching pad for this essay. This effort is aimed at my generation in the hope that my viewpoint will aid them.

As these thoughts swirl around, I think back on my own life. My mind slips back thirty years. A sudden recession had struck the oil business. Imperial Oil, the company my husband Sheldon worked for, needed to cut costs. They started by offering their older employees early retirement. A common move, but Imperial did it with humanity and caring. The package offered was generous, and the program that accompanied it was amazing. Every retiree and his or her spouse was invited to attend a retirement information class. This course took several days to complete, and covered more aspects than most of us had ever considered. Advice about financial matters was expected. We got that, but also excellent information on the mental, physical, and social adjustments that accompanied retirement.    Continue reading


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Survival Guide for Old Age

The years pile up. Age creeps up slowly, hardly noticed at first. A woman lives in the same home for fifty years. She has a profession and develops it seriously. At home she shares the all-important business of raising a family, keeps the house, does community work, and gardens. Slowly, one by one, all slip away. In the end, it is only she and the house. It becomes imperative now that she make a big change. This is beyond her imagination and she rejects all insistence to do so.

Making a major move is trying at any time. At an advanced age it can be traumatic. Two known constants in life – inevitable change, and resistance to change – are now at loggerheads. More education regarding aging, and the timing and managing of major changes, would be very helpful in many cases. Where can ordinary people get good, reliable information about such a common experience?

When I hear people discussing old age, my mind flips back about seven hundred years to 1310 and a man named Dante Alighieri. His epic poem, “The Divine Comedy”, is revered by literary scholars. My knowledge of it is confined to one line: “Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here.” This is what Dante inscribed on his word-picture of the grim gates to Hell.   Continue reading


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Perfection – Is it possible, or not?

When I think of perfection, the very word covers such a variety of concepts, beliefs, situations, that even grasping it is difficult. Yet when I encounter perfection, recognition floods over me. My spirits soar, life is good, nothing is impossible.

This mysterious reality pops up when it is least expected. Waking up to blue skies and sunshine dancing on wet bushes outside my window sets the mood. A phone call from a dear old friend comes at just the right moment. Perfect – just perfect!

The range of this elusive entity is amazing: from “the ridiculous to the sublime” it holds sway. I try on a sweater that has become too tight, and surprisingly find that it now fits. Leaving on my daily walk, I come across a spot where the path is carpeted with the beautiful white petals from a Star Magnolia tree. Looking up I see the mother tree, with a few remaining flowers and many tiny, new, green leaves. Perfection!

Frequent, fleeting, and unannounced, it is still somehow everywhere, offering the same elixir in different doses. I must be awake and aware very moment. Life requires that I handle the difficult and the unwanted. Perfection’s visits provide a valuable balance in daily life. What a wonderful gift!


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Chance Encounter

1975 Early July  It is the end of a long, hot day on the farm.  Wearily dragging my feet, I cross the farmyard, heading for the car.  Feeling something hard under my foot, I stop and pick the object up.

“What are you looking at?” calls Sheldon.

“Don’t really know, but it’s beautiful.  Look at this, Sheldon.”     Continue reading


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On the Sunny Side of the Street

Preface: Thursday November 28th 

We are entering a wonderful time of the year.  Special days galore surround us: New Year, Christmas, Hanukkah, plus endless family celebrations will be the norm.

In the midst of this happy milieu we all struggle to handle our ongoing daily commitments.  I have a writing due for my creative writing class on each of three closely grouped days – November 28th, December 4th, and December 18th.  Necessity provides the incentive to create a “do-able” solution.  I have decided to present three loosely related vignettes, one on each of the dates mentioned.  The first one is today.  A cautionary note: the dictionary defines a vignette as “A short, graceful, literary sketch.”  I can guarantee only the short part.  The other three elements may, or may not, be achieved!  

On The Sunny Side Of The Street

Age is interesting.  There are few “How to Navigate” or “How to Understand” instructions for this very special portion of life.  Each day brings surprises.  Some are not welcome, some even very difficult, but many are delightful.

Musing about this, on one morning walk, I marvelled at the beauty of the sky.  Clouds battled with sunshine, creating a checkered pattern from horizon to horizon.  My sense of pleasure was intense.  A complete stranger stopped and pointed out to me a flock of crows, engaged in a real battle over one small chunk of bread.  We watched, laughed, visited, and then moved on.   Continue reading


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Plans and Bumps

The first of two installments

The sudden howling of the wind, and the torrential downpour of rain spiced with hail seizes our attention.  Visiting interrupted, the five of us push back our chairs and rush to the window to watch in amazement.

“Was this forecast?” I demand.  Having just arrived in Edmonton, I feel it’s a fair question.  My friends deny any previous knowledge of this wild weather.  Our host hurries into the next room and turns on the radio, TV and computer.  All sources blare forth the same message.

“Tornado Warning!”  Seek shelter immediately.  Do not leave your present location until an ‘All Clear’ is issued.”

My tablemates and I stand at the window, watching the swirling gusts of wind pick up anything loose and fling it aloft.  A child’s jacket, a large cardboard box, and a garden tool all fly by.  We watch with sympathy as a crow, battered by the wild wind, struggles to escape the storm’s grasp.  My mind protests, “This is my vacation.”   Continue reading


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My Lament

I lost my friend
    did I tell you?
        She died.

An ache gnaws my heart, persistent, sadly reminds.

She walked early, loving
    morning light
        early walkers
            fresh crisp air.

Late afternoon for me
    light warm golden
        from the setting sun
            late walkers with dogs.

So many topics we explored – politics, ethics, food, multicultural relations
religions international and personal
the priceless value of family, friends, and strangers
and finally
what our remaining future holds.

We spoke our minds
    bared our fears
        our joys
            our questions.

In the end, no world problems solved
    no personal stances altered, just
        two souls lovingly understanding
            one another.

For both, the end hovers in sight
    the final battle cannot be won
        in our hands only the skirmishes before the end
            our fight to make our last days good.

Our challenges?
    Her failing heart
        my dementia
            trivial things like that.

I point to the extra years she has already squeezed from this heart
    why not more?
She claims dementia must be fast to beat my declining pool of years
    why not this?

Then we look into one another’s eyes
        clasp hands
            sit close together
                and remember.

I lost a friend
    did I tell you?
         She died.

Dedicated to the memory of Elizabeth MacLeod, an outstanding person, loved by all.


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