The story of my friend Oran

Have you ever thought about living to be 100? What it would be like to see all the changes in the world over a span of one hundred years? Would you even want to live that long? A lot of people say they most certainly wouldn’t want to, although I wonder if it’s because most of us really don’t expect to live that long so it’s an easy judgment to make. Some people look at old age as a disease of the body and mind, and I suppose for many it is. But I’m just not sure it has to be that way. I’ve heard about some pretty remarkable centurions. I can’t help thinking that much of it had to do with their attitude and their determination to age yet never grow “old.”

My next-door neighbour lived to be 100. She was a remarkable lady. She’s been gone for about 7 years now, but I think of her so often. She was a feisty lady with a twinkle in her eye and a fierce determination to do things one way or the other. Many times it was that “other” way, but it never made a difference in the end result.

I spent many hours at her house being entertained by her stories of long ago, totally enthralled in that way of life she so vividly described in her yarns. There was so much for someone like me to learn and my love for local history deepened with each story she told. I loved hearing her stories about the first time she remembered ever seeing a woman smoke (probably a big deal at the time!); her days in a one-roomed schoolhouse; the very first doll she ever had that she won in a raffle but ended up giving it away to a little girl she thought wanted it more; and even her memories of the rumble they heard the morning of the Halifax explosion in 1917 and when word finally reached them in the Forties Settlement that “Halifax blew up.” I once asked her why she didn’t write down her stories but she told me she didn’t want to because there had been so much sadness. She often spoke of her father’s death during the flu epidemic after the First World War and how she went to work as a hired girl shortly afterward. She never complained about any of these things or the sadness she spoke of, but simply stated them as fact.

More than her stories, as if they weren’t enough, she helped teach me that I was capable of doing things I normally wouldn’t even have attempted on my own. I like to think that a little of her determination kind of rubbed off on me over the years.

cupOne spring she decided we’d paint her bedroom. She’d chosen a soft lavender colour for the walls. It was her favourite. Painting I can do… no problems there. But while I was in the middle of rolling on the lavender I heard a strange sound coming from the kitchen. I went off to investigate only to find that my friend had her skillsaw out and was cutting a piece of wood to make a shelf for her newly painted room. Just so you know, she was about ninety at the time.Together we put up the shelf. Now, I’m not a shelf-putter-upper person by any stretch of the imagination. When I need a self put up in my house I get Hubby to do the job. But not that day. That day I was a shelf-putter-upper. While I put up brackets for a brand spanking new shelf, Hubby was nowhere to be found.

Meanwhile, as I painted the walls and put up the shelf, my friend kept speculating on who would lay the cushion floor she’d bought. (Yes, she wanted the room to have a complete makeover.) Did I know anyone who could do it? she asked. While I couldn’t think of anyone, apparently she had someone in mind. And really, I should have known better. I really, really should have.

I’m not sure if my face gave way my surprise when she handed me a pair of scissors and told me to start cutting but it certainly should have. I stared down at the scissors, took a deep breath and started. There was no question about it. I was in for the whole deal. Cushion floor does NOT cut easily with scissors, but skin sure blisters easily—just so you know! And now that I think of it, she probably had me pegged for the job right from the start. She could be cagey that way …but cagey in an endearing way that always made me smile. Thank goodness the room was small with no strange and unusual cuts to make. It was no good for me to say I can’t do this, she’d have just said to give it a try anyway. She never worried that her expectations would not be met.

Like so many women in her time she was a quilter. I helped her with a few quilts one winter. I didn’t know how to use a thimble let alone quilt, but I did it. I love quilts, absolutely LOVE them. “Have you ever seen an ugly quilt?” I asked her one day as we stitched away. “Yes,” she said quite seriously, “this one.” But “ugly” or not, it keeps me warm, and I absolutely love it. Yes, she gave it to me when we were done. Of course it’s more than just a quilt, it’s pieces of coloured fabric stitched together with heart and soul and laughter and love and memory—and all those things makes it absolutely beautiful.

One thing I loved about doing things for my friend was she never expected perfection. (Good thing for that!) She was always just happy to have it done…and always grateful to have company.

IMAG0584One summer, when she was further into her nineties, she decided she wanted to finish one of the bedrooms upstairs in her house. Ignoring what others said about why she would decide at her age to tackle such a job, she went ahead. Her niece helped her. Saturday mornings we could hear the tap-tapping of hammers from down the road. “Oran must have got a pet woodpecker,” my husband would joke. It used to make us giggle as we imagined the two of them working away. But you know what? She got ‘er done. And I’m not sure if I’m more impressed that they did it, these two women with no carpentry skills, or the fact that at 90+ years she wasn’t too old to hope or wish or want or dream. And while I’m not absolutely sure, I think that her “I can” attitude had much to do with her longevity.

There is so much more to this story than I could possible post here, more than a lifetime if I were to dig deep enough. But more importantly, I think this story, this story of my friend, Oran, who lived to be 100 years young, is a story we can all learn from. Life is so much more than the number of years we’ve lived but the number of years we’ve filled with love and laughter and memories, not only for ourselves but for others.

Have you ever thought about living to be 100? Has anyone in your life made it that far?

The Friday List

Okay, out with it. Have a good laugh. What? Nothing out there to make your eyes sparkle and your insides vibrate you say? Umm, maybe you’re not looking hard enough.

They say laughter is the best medicine,  and I tend to agree. I laugh a lot. I can’t help it. If God saw fit to give us a sense of humour, I say let’s put it to good use. After all, there must be something more to laughing than a noise erupting from our open mouths and our bellies jiggling. The experts all seem to agree that it’s good for us.  They can’t ALL be  wrong, can they ?

Recently, I read some advise in a health book that said, “Take time to laugh every day.” It sounded like a no-brainier to me. Take time to laugh actually sounds weird. It sounds as though the author is saying we should put it on our to-do list to make sure we don’t forget.  Hmmm, I wonder how that would work.

I think it would look silly on a run–of-the-mill to do list, not only that, it makes me wonder if I accidentally let one slip out before I get to it on my list, does that mean I’m all set for the day. I can wait until tomorrow before I laugh again. Hmmm.

A trip out to the clothesline this morning while I was working on this post brought another idea into my mind. Perhaps we need to take a moment and rethink these to-do lists we’re constantly constructing, maybe fill it with fun things that don’t necessarily have us striving to do more and moving mountains in the process. In fact, maybe I’ll make a new list. I’ll call it a To-Live List. Here goes.

Friday`s To- Live   List

  1. Spend time in the sunshine. (There’s nothing like a good dose of sunshine to brighten dampened spirits or to simply make us feel alive. In fact, it should be a requirement for daily living.)
  2. Smile at a stranger. I do this all the time in the grocery store. It’s such a simple thing, but you never know the smile you give someone else might be exactly what they needed for that day.  Not only that, it fills us up and doesn’t cost a cent.  : )
  3. Create. I don’t care how you do it or how well. We all came to the planet to create in one way or another. So get busy. But..but..but.. I don’t draw or paint or write, you might be saying. Keep in mind that creativity comes in many forms, gardening, knitting, scrapbooking, sewing, cooking, baking, the list is endless. If you enjoy doing it, go for it!
  4. Tell yourself you’re awesome every day, and mean it. How do I know you’re awesome? We all are. We wouldn’t be here if we weren’t. We need to be our own cheering section. There won’t always be someone there to tell us how awesome we are.
  5. Laugh at life  or  yourself, whichever  one works  for you. What, you don’t think life is funny? Life offers us many, many opportunities to laugh. If something funny didn’t happen this day, thank goodness your memory will help you pull something out of its long repertoire of funny- things-that-have-happened-in-the-past-that-can-still-make-me-laugh-out-loud-to this- day moments. I’m still chuckling over last weekend’s blunder when hubby and I came out of the mall and could not find the car. We hunted and hunted, until we eventually found it exactly where we’d parked it. Imagine that! Hubby’s comment was, “When we get older it won’t pay for us to go out of the house!”  I had to agree.
  6. Sing. I think singing ranks right up there with laughter. When I think of all the beautiful songs in the world it just blows my mind. Being able to express ourselves through music is such a wonderful gift. It doesn’t matter if the tune you’re carrying won’t fit in that bucket of yours, who says we have to perform for anyone. Besides, most times the lyrics are something to be marvelled at as well.
  7. Feel gratitude. Gratitude is something we all feel, or should feel, daily. For those of you who think they’ve nothing to be grateful for, maybe you just haven’t looked hard enough.  At the very least feel gratitude for another day with you in it.  And don’t forget to say thank you. I find many things that make me smile inwardly as I say a silent thank you, to the Universe, to God, to whatever force of higher intelligence you might believe in that keeps this world of ours flowing.

 

Since I like the number 7, I’ll end my list of   “To Live “ items here.  I happen to think all these things are important. There are plenty more things I could have added to this list, but I have only so much time for blogging. So,  I`ll  leave you to continue….If you were making a To Live list what might you add?

The Idea of Christmas

My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that? ~~Bob Hope

I have to say those are mighty wise words. We go out of our way at Christmas time to spread  joy and love, and to perform acts of kindness. At this time of the year we make that extra effort, but who knows, maybe one day these things will flow effortlessly. Maybe one day, as Bob pointed out, we won’t just wait for Christmas. What a lovely world it would be. Don’t you agree?

I’ll leave you with a wintery photo I snapped the other day. A day later the rain took most of the snow away. It’s been a few years since we’ve had a white Christmas and today, the flurries are flying and the ground is back to being white again. It’ll be interesting to see what Christmas day will bring in regards to the weather.

DSC03141

My wish for all is for you to enjoy this time regardless of what holiday you celebrate. May you find joy, peace and laughter in the year ahead.

The Christmas List

December already and I’m attempting to get my Christmas shopping done. I haven’t yet given serious thought to baking, decorating or wrapping gifts yet, but that’s nothing unusual for me. Eventually everything that needs doing gets done before the big day. I’m not one of those people who thrive on the “preparation part” of Christmas. I want to go into Christmas relaxed and able to enjoy the time with my family. When my kids were small that was next to impossible. Sometimes change is a good thing.
This Christmas there will be laughter, food, gifts, and most of all the laughter. Did I mention laughter? Of right, I did. We’re a pretty silly bunch when we get together. Last year seemed to be the year for poetry as a good many poems accompanied the gifts. I’m inclined to think that, for all of us, the poems were the best part, certainly the part that we remember first.
I always ask my kids to make a list of gift suggestions just to make it a bit easier on dear old Mum. I have a full head of hair and I’d like to keep it that way. My kids all know this list is more of a wish list than anything because I’m not about to try and track down everything on it. Besides, now that they’re all earning more money than me I’m thinking that perhaps I’m the one who should be making up a list. It never seems to work that way though. Ah well, that’s the way.
Last year I shared with you a bit of my son’s list where he claimed to have suddenly gone Atheist and therefore didn’t want any Christmas gifts.You can read a portion of last year’s Christmas list. here. It was a fairly substantial note intended to obviously amuse me, which it did. I’m a pushover when it comes to silly. My kids know it.
This year, after an enormous amount of prodding from me, I received this lovely list in an email which he titled “short and sweet.” I thought some of you might be interested to see what’s on the wish list of your typical 24 year old these days. Hmmm, did I say typical?…Tell me what you think. This is how the email arrived to me. I added my response. I simply couldn’t stop myself.

short and sweet:

-A 1000 pk bag of sugar twin.  (I’m assuming he’s developed a sweet tooth, but doesn’t want the calories)
-A 50 pound bag of potatoes.  (This one really threw me..For the love of God who asks for a 50 pound bag of spuds? When asked to specify, he said he’s partial to Yukon Gold.)
-Nair for men (Is there even such a thing as Nair for men? Okay, this one had me worried a bit. But wait, my mind is telling me he’s been lifting weights at the gym, could it be he’s going to become a body builder? Body builders remove unwanted hair, right?)
-Grecian 5, colour AC242  (I have no idea if this is an actual colour, but me thinks not. I’m sure he pulled that colour number out of thin air.)
-Cardamom— (hmmmm.This is one bachelor who knows how to cook and obviously knows more about spices than his mother.. I had to look that spice up. Perhaps it’s an attention getter, you know for when he invites his date in for a meal he’s prepared. Every woman loves a man who knows his way around the kitchen. Right? But will she even know what Cardamom is?)
-Pickled Herring (I knew  sooner or later there would be something fishy about this list of his.)
-door stops –(Yup, what every young man hankers after these days—door stops.I’m sure there are a few rocks around here that would do the trick. In his spare time he can paint them up and make them look quite nifty if he’s truly ambitious.)
-those little pads that go on your cupboard doors ( .Ah yes, those little pads, the ones my second child chewed off my cupboards when she was a toddler. Apparently, they even lack a proper name ..)
-2, 5 gallon SunSpun oil buckets (Free at the superstore)  (Need they be SunSpun, I wondered? Won’t just any five gallon bucket do the trick? I’m assuming these will double for chairs as well as storage, right? You know, for when he invites his date over a gourmet meal of pickled herring and potatoes that he’s prepared himself. He can even sweeten that dessert he’s making with sugar twin and let’s not forget the cardamom, heavens to Betsy we can’t forget that.)

So there you see what I have to deal with. Although, truthfully, it serves to remind me that we needn’t take life or Christmas too seriously. There are far more important things in this world than wanting everything to be perfect.  Perfection is a façade, something that builds up our expectations to greater heights when really it is the simpler things such as peace, hope,joy and love that we will remember and cherish. Let’s not forget the love and support of family. It won’t be that big ticket item you purchased that you’ll look back on with fond memories, but the happy times that you created with your loved ones near.

Now to get back to my Christmas shopping. Anyone know a good place to buy Yukon Gold potatoes? I SO want to get him a bag just to see the expression on his face come Christmas morning.

The Christmas List

I love my kids…I know, you’ve all said that one before.

But my kids really are great.. (Yeah, you’ve said that, too)

A few years back, they all chipped in to buy me a laptop computer for writing. Opting not to buy Christmas presents for each other, so that my present would be within their budgets, they used their imaginations and creativity, and made gifts for one another. I think that was one of the best Christmas’ we ever had. Maybe my judgement is cloudy and perhaps they wouldn’t agree with me on that. Who know? Maybe it was one of the best for me because I got a laptop in the bargain. Seriously though, it wasn’t the laptop, it was the lengths that they all went through to get it for me… See what I mean?

Great kids.

Besides being great people, they all have a quirky sense of humour that I adore. They make me laugh and they love making me laugh.

For me, laughter is one of our greatest gifts..

Today I received an email from my son. I had asked him a while back to make a Christmas list to give me some gift suggestion for things he either needs or would like to have.

Well, there’s no point in expecting a dull old Christmas list from Matt Best. No siree… Here’s a bit of his email:

As the festive season inevitably rolls around, you no doubt are asking yourself: “what does one get for the perfect son who has everything?” Well, I’m here to lay those worries to rest. For I have devised a plan to relax your spirits and allow you to enjoy the holidays all the more.
I’m going Atheist, buy me any kind of Christmas gifts and shit will hit the fan, for no one will be received from me.

Gotcha! Actually the plan I have devised is much more unruly and racket worthy than that….

He goes on to say that he’s met a nice Mormon lady, has quit school and is running away to Utah to start a new life. That means you don’t have to buy me any Christmas gifts….

The list, did I say list? I mean meandering letter, continued…

Well perhaps my true plan will be that much less threatening now that I have built you up: I present to you “Operation: Christmas gifts” a.k.a. my Christmas list. Enjoy this honor I have bestowed upon you.” Hmmm, I notice he used the American spelling for honour.

He then lists several gift ideas, but goes on to say that nothing on his list is expected or required….

See what I mean? How do you not laugh at a Christmas list like that?

Is there anything special on your Christmas list this year? What is one of your fondest Christmas memories?

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