Thursday, 27 August 2015

Friends Forever

Shelley


We met buying school supplies at the local mall. Running into each other more than once in our mission to get every thing that we needed, we smiled, then Shelley started up a conversation. My son was a year younger than her son and her daughter, a year younger than my son. Our children hit it off too. Shelley suggested we take a break and have coffee. During that time, we compared notes and found out we had much in common. We were both recovering from horrific motor vehicle accidents, caused by drunk drivers, where our survival was considered a true miracle. Both drivers of our vehicles were killed. For me, my fiance, for Shelley, her best friend.

Shelley told me about the aqua-size class she was attending that was helping her get her mobility back and recommended I join. Fortunately, I had a lot of time to take a fitness class since I was unemployed and lived with my parents. Later on, I was a self-employed seamstress working out of my home. Shelley and I attended the same aqua-size class for about 8 years. We also had coffee after class to socialize with other people we met there. Fun times!

Shelley despite her ordeal, was an outgoing, friendly person with a winning smile. She also had a great sense of humour and called a spade a spade. Everyone loved her. I, on the other hand, have always been an introvert and the aftermath of my accident made me even more so. I was extremely overweight and had a marked limp. Shelley accepted me the way I was and never criticized. She understood. Without Shelley, my life would have been very boring and I would have not regained my walking ability or my self-confidence as easily.

Today, after 21 years, Shelley and I are still friends. So are our children. We no longer live in the same area or even in the same country, but those experiences that brought us together continue to provide a connection. The most important thing we have in common is a faith in God. We believe God gave us a second chance for a reason.
Shelley and I, 2012

Shelly and her mom, reunion lunch with friends.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Reflections on Turning 60

Time to grow up? 

In some ways, you do begin your second childhood when you enter your 60's.  Rather than being focused on what other people think of you, you become more interested in having some fun again. Another kick at the can, so to speak. On the other hand, if your parents are still living, you can no longer lean on them with your problems, expect them to bail you out. The roles have switched. You are now the caregiver, looking out for their safety and well being. For me, it made me feel like I was truly an adult. I was totally responsible for my own life, with the added responsibility of caring for my parents. 

When I was young, I thought 60 was ancient. You were considered past your prime, over the hill, a senior, an old bag etc. Now that I have reached that milestone, I honestly don't feel all that different. Certainly not old! A few aches and pains, a bit of memory loss, but I still have my curiosity, the drive to learn new things, intact. I enjoy talking to people of all ages, learning their history, story, valuable information. If I don't experience it first hand, the internet has made it possible to connect with people from all over the world. The isolation and loneliness of my youth has long been banished. I am of the generation that may have initially sworn off using new technology. I did. That included microwave cooking, ATM use, computers and then the dreaded Smartphone. Now, I embrace them all. Microwaves, not so much because of the possible effects on food chemistry. I love digital photography. Being able to view, edit and share images in minutes is very exciting.

I must admit that turning 60 this May, put me in a bit of a funk. I even went off Google for a while. I was depressed. I thought of all the projects I hadn't finished and probably wouldn't complete, all the things that I may never do. Teaching overseas for one. I had started an English course to that end and withdrew. I usually don't give up easily. Over 20 years ago, I had to put my teaching career on hold due to a car accident that left me unemployable for 3 years. After 26 job interviews, the last 3 years ago to teach in Abu Dhabi, I had to except the fact that I was never going to get another teaching job. Thankfully, the United Arab Emirates position fell through.  I wouldn't have been able to help my parents, keep them in their lovely home and country property they worked so hard to build and landscape. I would have also had a more stressful life  as a day care supervisor and would been away from my son, who still needed me. 

What lies ahead? Based on the example of my parents, friends and relatives, life can be enjoyed as long as you keep a positive outlook and live a healthy lifestyle. Don't focus on the negative aspects of aging. Get out and smell the roses, the woods, immerse yourself in new hobbies and interests. Read a good book that not only entertains, but teaches you something about history, other cultures. Plunking yourself in front of the TV, becoming a couch potato, will shorten your life and you won't really live anyway. You will just come to exist. Nourish your friendships and value your family ties. It is people that make life worthwhile. Above all, have faith!