Tag Archives: tribute

Elderly Is In the Eye of the Beholder

ElderlySignA few weeks ago, I was listening to the 6:00 news when my ears pricked up on a story about an “elderly” woman who was in a serious car accident. The report went on to talk about “the 72-year-old woman”. My first reaction of course was compassion and sympathy for the poor lady and her family, but my second reaction was: “Hold the presses! Since when is 72 elderly?”

I would not be a gentleman if I openly divulged my mother’s age to explain why this resonated so strongly, but let’s just say, I’m 50… you can do the math.

When Mom and I chatted that evening, she started talking about a news item that hit close to home and I completed her sentence with, “…about the ‘elderly’ 72 year old?” She said yes.

Later that evening, I wondered why that choice of words in particular elicited a reaction from both of us. I checked a few online dictionaries for a textbook definition of elderly and to my surprise, the consensus seems to read that it is the time after middle age but without any further elaboration.

This came as a relief because most of the septuagenarians I know are looking pretty darn chipper, enjoying a great quality of life and living longer, healthier lives.

I was also reassured that it was not just us who had an inkling that the word elderly seemed a tad inappropriate when I read a great NPR article by Linton Weeks called “An Age-Old Problem: ‘Who Is Elderly’?”

Mr. Weeks traces back the roots of the word to the 10th century, as suggested by the Oxford English Dictionary and defined as ‘in a wider sense, a predecessor, one who lived in former days’.” For centuries, the term elder commanded respect and reverence for their knowledge and wisdom.

But I think Mr. Weeks hits the nail on the head Continue reading

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under 50+, Inspiring

A Taste of Retirement

Andrew Haydon Park, September 2015

Andrew Haydon Park, September 2015

Just before turning 50, I decided that my birthday present to myself was to take two weeks off from work for an easy-going staycation.

Originally, my partner and I had kicked around the idea of a trip to California to celebrate the big occasion, but a lower Canadian dollar made our trip to New York City in the spring a little more expensive than expected. Combined with a special assessment from my condominium corporation, there was a little dent in my cash flow which made California a little pricey at that point in time. After tossing around a few other more affordable ideas, just chilling close to home seemed to be the option that resonated most with me.

It did not take long to find the benefits of two weeks off to take life at a gentle pace, away from the commuting, the meetings and the deadlines. Also, given that I did not have a pressing list of appointments or major home maintenance projects ahead of me, a fairly quiet two weeks increasingly appealed to me. Reconnecting with life’s simple pleasures would be good for the soul: good sleep, good food, time to write, fresh air and exercise.

Vacation time kicked off with an exciting overnight trip to Toronto for a chance to see Janet Jackson in concert. I could not say no to the idea of crossing “Miss-Jackson,-if-you’re-nasty” off my bucket list of concerts, especially since I had never seen one of her live shows before but was always a huge fan of her music and videos.

The opportunity to see Janet worked out beautifully as a way of launching the vacation in style while quickly transitioning my mind away from the office. It was a fantastic show, sure to appeal to all loyal fans, in offering a set list of all of her hits and a few new songs from her latest album “Unbreakable”, packaged together in a high energy concert of brilliant dancing, staging and light show. For me, this Janet Jackson concert was definitely worth the wait.

Not long after returning home, the realization that I was on vacation quickly set in. The problem for me is that this sensation usually heralds a nervous energy spurt to start cleaning in the corners I don’t usually have time to get into on a week-to-week basis. But this time, it felt different. Because I wasn’t trying to wedge in a lengthy to-do list in a matter of a few days, I had the luxury of time to just try attacking one or two items per day. This allowed me to keep the rest of the day to myself and to decide in the moment how to spend it.

However, the recent arrival of Ivy the cat Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under 50+, Inspiring, Misc blogs

In Honour of Grandparents’ Day

Even though my four grandparents are no longer with us, there is no shortage of triggers that keep their spirit alive through a flood of great memories. Those reminders seem to present themselves daily, whether in the way I cough that sounds like my paternal grandfather or in the way I blow my nose that reminds me of my maternal grandfather. More recently, there is also a certain way that my cat Ivy replies to a question, in a very soft meow, which sounds just like my maternal grandmother’s inflection.

In those moments, I really miss them.

Even though specific childhood memories with my grandparents get a little foggier over time, they remain fond ones. In particular, when my parents wanted a bit of grown-up time whether for a day of skiing or a weekend getaway, I would get dropped off at my maternal grandparents’ house where music, laughs and good times were in limitless supply. Having been the only grandchild on that branch of the family tree for a good 16 years, there was lots of play time, talk time and time to share with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and extended family. As much as they say it takes a village to raise a child, I could not have asked for better.

I will be forever grateful to my grandmother who always seemed to be happy to have me over, even if it meant getting out of bed early to greet me at the door in her nightgown and robe on a cold Sunday morning. I fondly remember precious chats with her over hot chocolate, while the rest of the family slept in, then getting whisked off to church for the 10:00 service. I admit I was a pretty quiet little kid when it came to church, but my worst sin was letting my wet winter boots drip on the kneeling bench and my grandmother magically pulling out of her purse tissue after tissue, like a magician, to mop up my mess. Yet I still remember getting rewarded with a Caramilk bar at the candy store on the way home, for being good.

My paternal grandparents lived several hour away, so our relationship was based on annual visits and long distance calls. It is sad we did not have more contact, but we made it work. I remember my grandfather as a strong, proud, dignified man and my grandmother as having the biggest heart in the world, and missing me terribly due to distance between us, often smothering me with kisses throughout our visits. Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Inspiring, Misc blogs

A Tribute to Mamma Mia!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe hit Broadway show Mamma Mia! will be playing to its final audience on September 12, 2015. Even though I assume that touring companies will probably continue to play to audiences around the world for some time to come, to me, it is the end of an era.

According to my Playbill collection, it appears that I have seen Mamma Mia! 8 times: 3 times in Toronto, 3 in Ottawa, 1 in Las Vegas, and 1 in New York City. I even came close to seeing it once in Stockholm in Swedish which would have been a great time for a student of all things Swedish like myself, but alas, it was not playing the week I was there.

My first time was a rather unique situation in the sense that it was about month after my dad had passed away. This was the first time I had lost a relative who was that close to me. I had a hard time articulating, feeling, validating and working through the range of emotions I was experiencing, and felt up and down like a roller coaster over that time. I was in a very sad place.
My uncle was so kind in that he knew I was going to Toronto for a bit of a getaway, and he so generously offered me a ticket to see Mamma Mia!

He knew I had been a fan of ABBA since I was very young, and he knew how much I enjoyed theatre. It was a pretty safe bet that I would enjoy it. If only he knew what it would mean to me in that moment and for years to come.

Our balcony seat offered us a bird’s eye view of the show and we did not miss a single moment. From the opening scene and the first notes of “I Have a Dream”, I recall goosebumps and chills down my spine with the recognition that this was the closest I would get to ever seeing ABBA music performed live in this lifetime. This was already a dream come true… and the first song just started!

I had never experienced a musical like this before, with Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Inspiring, Theatre

Just for Laughs 2015

Hahaha1This past weekend, John and I took a short road trip to Montréal to join in on some of the festivities of the 2015 edition of the Just for Laughs (JFL) festival.

Founded in 1983, the festival is a major cultural event, showcasing comedy in all of its forms, from leading performers in stand-up comedy to the very best in performance artists, and everything and everyone you could imagine in between. For the festivities, the street in front of Place des Arts turns into a pedestrian mall, a feast for the senses with food and beverage trucks, buskers, mini stages for performance art and any number of things you will only see at a comedy festival. I could have sworn I saw a character that looked like “Polkaroo” from the kids’ TV show… or maybe it was the wine speaking… in any case, there are plenty of sights you won’t see anywhere else.

When we attended Just for Laughs two years ago, we thought that the stars had lined up so perfectly when we had the privilege of seeing a parade of fine stand-up comedians in three gala shows hosted by Kristin Chenoweth, Kathy Griffin and the legendary Joan Rivers. How could anyone do better than that?

The icing on the cake of our 2013 visit, was a one-woman comedy show starring the fantastic Canadian comedienne Debra DiGiovanni. Debra’s style of humour resonates with me on so many levels with her high energy delivery, her great references to pop culture and her excellent timing when it comes to relaying stories of observational humour.

By the end of that weekend, my cheeks hurt from smiling and laughing so much. It was a weekend of really great memories while crossing events off our bucket lists… but could JFL top that?
This past spring, when the emails started hitting my inbox, announcing the galas and headliners, it looked like the stars were lining up again for a spectacular season, so we took the plunge and bought tickets.

Our weekend began with an unexpected brush with celebrities as a few National Hockey League players and their buddies were having a grand time, partying at our favourite restaurant, Bâton Rouge.

Then after dinner, with very full stomachs, we hiked up Sainte-Catherine Street 15 minutes to Le Théâtre l’Olympia De Montréal (Olympia Theatre) for another bucket list show, featuring the brilliant Margaret Cho. I guess that buying tickets early paid off as we were only 2 rows away from the stage, and able to get the full effect with every sight, sound, gesture and change in Margaret’s facial expressions. I must admit I laughed until I cried… twice. We both enjoyed her performance and would highly recommend seeing Margaret if the opportunity presented itself.

Our next stop was Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Humour, Travel

On Broadway (2015)

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

My partner and I are back from what seems to be turning into an annual pilgrimage to New York City, enjoying the sights and sounds of the Big Apple. While there is never a shortage of fun things to see and do in a constantly changing landscape of attractions, the focal point of our trips is enjoying the Broadway theatre scene.

Our trips start getting planned months in advance as we not only read the descriptions, cast lists and reviews for each show, but we also try to tune in to the Tony Award buzz online, to get a sense of the shows that will likely get nominated and the ones we must see.

The shows that seem to be attracting the most favourable reviews and Tony buzz, and for which tickets seem to be in short supply, we will buy in advance. At the same time, we will draft a short list of other possible shows which we think might be available at a discount at the TKTS booth in Times Square or for which we will keep an eye out for promo codes from the theatres to purchase tickets at a good price, without standing in line. Then we leave it up to luck after that.

For me, this year’s highlights have been:

The Audience
In my eyes, Dame Helen Mirren can do no wrong so perhaps I might be a little biased. But her performance in the Audience is a genuine tour de force. I was enthralled by her portrayal as Queen Elizabeth II throughout her years on the throne, holding audiences with her Prime Ministers of England. The magic of theatre is alive and well in this production as Dame Helen seamlessly transforms from a mature Elizabeth to a young Elizabeth, or vice versa, in a blink of an eye, masterfully embodying the spirit of the Queen at various points in her reign. Supported by a solid cast of actors portraying the Prime Ministers, as well as Elizabeth as a child, and a script that strikes the perfect balance between politics and the humanity behind politics, this play was a joy to behold and made me appreciate the monarchy so much more. Afterward, we met Dame Helen at the stage door where she so generously signed our programs. She was so kind, so charming and so gracious, it was a delightful chance meeting that made an already memorable evening unforgettable.

It Shoulda Been You
Tyne Daly’s brilliant performance in the play “Mothers and Sons” last year left us breathless so it was without hesitation that we bought tickets to “It Shoulda Been You”, a very funny story revolving around her character’s daughter’s wedding. We both laughed so hard during this production, we may have missed a couple of cascading jokes. The entire cast demonstrated amazing chemistry and impeccable comedic timing to the point that we really felt we had been part of the family, witnessing each character’s pre-wedding jitters and neuroses, from the daughter’s older unmarried sister, to her ex-boyfriend, to the in-laws and throughout the extended family. This production is easily relatable on many levels and was an absolute treat to experience. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Theatre, Travel

The Perfect Greeting Card

Card If you are ever looking for me over the spring months, I can often be found in greeting card shops or the card section of department stores and pharmacies. Between Easter, Mother’s Day and a big cluster of family birthdays in those months, the search is always on for the perfect greeting cards.

Even though there are many alternatives available in the electronic age, giving a card is a ritual I still enjoy and to a certain extent, I take to heart. I think it is an opportunity to offer someone a well-deserved tribute and a gesture of kindness and celebration, in a world where positive energy is sometimes in short supply.

You would think that as a writer, the most natural thing would be to pick out a nice blank card and then just create the perfect personalized verse inside. You would think that for someone who has been referred to as “relentlessly cheerful” and as a fountain of clichés of encouragement, creating a card would be a breeze. But it is not.

For some reason, I feel incredible pressure to not only make it good, but to make it perfect… after all, these are words that will be sitting on their mantle for a few days or weeks. If I screw it up in any way, there is a matter of posterity to contend with. In attempting to do so, I would probably fall into analysis paralysis and working on the verse of a card longer than the card would actually be up on the mantle.

That being the case, while finding a card that offers the perfect words may seem like a lofty goal, it can be time saver and can definitely be worth a few dollars.

I am not above picking a card with a cute pun, a light joke or one that perpetuates an appropriate cliché of some sort, I have bought a few of those. But because I like the ceremony of the experience, I prefer the opportunity to patiently peruse the card racks (sometimes to the point of going into a trance) until I get to that “Eureka!” moment. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Humour, Inspiring, Misc blogs, Writing