Four score and a lesson in compassion

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Was I guilty of ageism?  Perhaps.  But when the senior’s euchre tournament bus tour arrived at the lodge on Sunday, I was genuinely dreading the three days that would follow.  I made an egregious error in judgement.

Admittedly, the tour did not begin well for the 42 participants but the fault was not ours.  A slight hiccup in their agenda had caused them to arrive an hour and a half early and we were thoroughly unprepared for the sudden onset of walkers, luggage and upset elders.  We did our best to scramble and be as accommodating as possible.   I made a witty speech welcoming them on behalf of the owners and staff and my words were met with sullen stares and moderate contempt.  It was a bumpy start.

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(image credit)

Once we regained control our momentum increased and we began getting everyone settled into their rooms.  Betty and Rose reached their three stairs and Betty took the lead.  Once she was at the top, Rose began to follow.  Betty reached for the door frame and found nothing but a handful of air.  As I turned to look behind me, Betty, doing her best impression of a tree being felled in the forest, fell straight backwards and took Rose out, using her as a cushion for the fall.  The two ladies I had escorted to their room had just fallen and couldn’t get up.   Thankfully we got them into an upright and relatively stable position and, after many unqualified examinations, we deemed they were medically stable.

The group’s first dinner was an interesting event.  Still unsure of their surroundings, many uttered complaints that hung in the air like cartoon balloons.  There were threats of husbands being called to retrieve them the following morning and the night was punctuated by another woman being hit in the head by a heartily kicked-open kitchen door.  In the span of six hours, we had potentially concussed three women.

But then something changed.  Over the course of the following 60 hours, attitude and understanding rapidly evolved on both sides.  We understood the nature of their initial frustration and they understood the nature of our good will and hospitality.  By the end of their three night stay, I was calling them all by their first name and I was truly sad to see them climb the stairs to get back on the bus.  There were many hugs and talk of seeing them again next year.  I will admit that I was close to tears saying goodbye to these lovely souls.

Perhaps it was the sideways glances I got from Rose that reminded me so much of my mom.  Maybe it was that bond of parenthood I have been missing since my mom and dad passed.  Whatever the reason, I will be ready and willing to welcome that next bus tour with open arms and use this enlightening experience as a lesson for the future.

When someone says “get stuffed”, it’s not always a bad thing

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There’s a lot to be said for the joy the holidays bring – or any celebration, for that matter.  Whether it be a birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas or a reunion – the ease of the conversation, the steady flow of wine, the melodic sound of laughter and the joy of being with a close-knit group of people is unequalled.  There is an undefined comfort level that allows us to become absorbed in the festivities that surround us. The fact that we can gorge ourselves and have an excuse to eat everything in sight with only a few fleeting moments of guilt is sublime.

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The molecules change in the room when family and friends get together for a holiday celebration.  There is something intrinsically sacred about holidays and the memories that are created within those moments. Time has a way of strategically obliterating those precious seconds as it marches on at a frantic pace, but our memories have a way of stopping that clock, if only for a few moments.

Holidays are a portal.  They can freeze time and create a vortex that allows us to travel back and relive certain periods in our lives.  The memories wrap themselves around us like a blanket and soothe us with the warmth of the times that engaged us and truly breathed life into our lives.

Although many holidays have passed and are collecting dust in the books of my hallowed history, watching my brother “float” his dinner in gravy brings back a rush of nostalgia, and that, to me, is what the holidays are truly about.  Personal moments that, to any other person would mean nothing but, to me, define my holiday experience.

Our Canadian Thanksgiving begins today and this evening I will spend time with family and friends enjoying a concert by Victoria Banks.  She is currently living in Nashville but is home for Thanksgiving weekend with her family.  The one glaring item that will be missing this Thanksgiving is my mom.  This weekend will be another “first” after her passing in March.  I know she will be with us in spirit tonight and especially during the making of my brother’s always spectacular turkey dinner.  Undoubtedly, she will be looking over his shoulder, whispering secrets into his ear, so he can make her stuffing just the way she used to.

Embrace your family, enjoy the moments and get stuffed with those memories.

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

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There is a myriad number of things I have seen on Facebook.  Most are mindless, time-filling, nonsensical things that I waste too many of my spare moments looking at, but every so often I come upon a sign or saying that really strikes a chord deep within me.

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?”

~Satchel Paige

It was a simple question but those words really resonated with me.  Sometimes I forget the number of my authentic chronological age.   I have honestly never felt that my time on this Earth truly reflects the age I feel I am on a daily basis.  I have always thought that I have an old soul but I have a young energy.  Time strings us along, giving us a sense of comfort as we grow older and we are more comfortable in our own skin.  But time does not have to make us feel any older than we want to be.  Wisdom does not always come with age, wisdom comes with understanding and acceptance.

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Too often we are classified by our age.  The year on our birth certificate does not have to define how we must act or how we should feel about ourselves.  Age really is a state of mind.  I will never define or categorize myself by the number of times the Earth has orbited the sun since I was born.  Nor will I let the stray grey hairs that peek out from under my Garnier Nutrisse #535 hair color affect how I live my life because of the number of years I have been alive.

When we are told as children to act our age but what does that really mean?   How can you behave as a number?  To prove my point, Yoko Ono said it perfectly, “Some people are old at 18 and some are young at 90 – time is a concept that humans created.”

How old would you be if you had to pick a number?

 

 

Heed the signs – or make them up as you go

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My dad was a cunning individual and in the years before he launched his illustrious real estate career he sold insurance. He innocently entered a doctor’s office in Oakville, set his sights on my mother during a routine sales call and he was smitten. She was the secretary in the doctor’s office and she would be lying if she said she wasn’t a bit taken by his boyish charm.  He shamelessly flirted with her before he left the office and my mom, engaged to someone else at the time, was nevertheless flattered.

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(how could you not be taken by that face?)

His creative approach to making that next contact was brilliant – coy with a hint of brazen boldness. He knew there was an undeniable connection and he did everything in his power to make sure that, even if it was not face to face, they would be in contact again. His devious plot mixed with a relatively innocent phone call asking if he had left his non-existent galoshes in the office began a romance that blossomed and turned into 44 years of marriage.  They have both since passed but I’m sure the romance continues in Heaven.

People who know a good thing when they see it will find numerous ways to insinuate themselves into another person’s life.  It may be glaringly obvious, or it may be a slow acclimation into their every day routine.  Regardless of how it happens that strong connection should be embraced.  We are drawn to these people for a reason and our souls were meant to collide with theirs.  Call it what you will – serendipity, fate, Kismet – but it’s hard to argue the feeling when you meet a kindred spirit.

Meeting someone who your soul connects with is an experience that can be sadly overlooked.  Whether it flourishes into romance or blooms into an exceptional fondness that lays the foundation for a great friendship, we need to heed the signs that lead us into the company of that kindred spirit.  It is rare to find someone who you can have a boundless affection for and it deserves to have a chance to grow into a lasting relationship.

Have you ever met someone and just known you had to be a part of their life?

Just get in the car and drive….

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Today is my first day of two days off in a row!  Sadly, I think the last time this phenomenon occurred was during the Christmas holidays when I had a horrible case of Pneumonia and couldn’t get off the couch.  Not even the sun shining through my bedroom window this morning could pull me from under the cover of my duvet.  I did rise at 7:30 to tend to my four-legged roommate but, after returning to bed, the clock read 10:39 a.m. when I finally emerged from my cocoon.

It’s amazing how quickly you can lose your grip on reality.  Work happens day in and day out and, if you let it, work can consume your life.  I awoke this morning almost struggling to come up with something fun to do since my day off usually consists of laundry, house cleaning and other mundane tasks.

I did mow the lawn and weed around my mom’s tree to feel some sense of accomplishment today but the day rapidly evolved into a day of carefree abandon which I have not been able to enjoy in a while.  My travelling companion and I hopped in the car and headed out onto the open road.  The sun was shining, the sky was a remarkable shade of blue and the roads were all but abandoned.

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I finally felt a true escape today that I have not felt in a while.  I didn’t think of what would happen at work tomorrow because my tomorrow work-day was extended for another 24 hour period.  I didn’t care that I hadn’t vacuumed my house because I still have tomorrow to vacuum.  It was a memorable day of reckless abandon and not having to share the open road because all the tourists are happily ensconced in their city homes.  It was just me, my dog and an endless stretch of sun-streaked pavement.

It’s amazing what you take for granted.  Those seemingly meaningless pleasures suddenly become treasured moments when you realize that you are unable to enjoy them as often as you would like.  Driving along winding country roads with not another car to be seen was my perfect moment today.  It gave me time to breathe.  It gave me time to reflect.  And it gave me time to just be myself.

When was the last time you had a perfect moment?

 

 

 

In the clouds

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My head is here,

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lost in what looks like a painting.

Texture emulates emotion, freedom.

The horizon represents reality,

meeting effortlessly with creative indulgence.

There are no rules in the clouds.

My heart is here,

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 swelling with emotion,

nurtured by nature and blessed by light,

comforted by the embrace of the essence of life.

free to move in a path that is meant only for me.