Wednesday, August 18, 2010

When I Grow Up

I’ve talked about it before. I want to be Aunt Ruth when I grow up. 

I have just spent three days with this wonderful woman and came away, as always, feeling upbeat and positive about aging, and a whole bunch of other things as well.

My Dad’s sister was 93 last January.  Or so her birth certificate would say.  In reality, she is basically ageless.  She has more energy than people half her age, and more depth and spirit to boot.

Her openness to new adventure is evident in the fact that she has just moved into yet another new chapter of her life … a place at the lake that she embraces with great enthusiasm and gratitude.  She is spending every moment she can there – walking the beach, writing her memoirs, meeting new friends and getting involved in yet more social activities. 

It was a wonderful little holiday for me. I love going to the lake and I love spending time with Aunt Ruth. We squeeze a remarkable number of things into a visit.  Not the least being a great deal of story telling on both our parts.  She listens just as well as she shares.

We covered a lot of things, first starting at the cemetery where all of our relatives are buried.  Her parents and my parents. Her siblings and my siblings. Grandparents and Great Grandparents of both of us.  We dug out around the aged gravestone of my sister and brother, and then the stone of her brother who also died tragically as a child, almost a hundred years ago.

I think that it’s really quite unique that our family rests so close together. My grandparents - her parents, within feet of all but one of their eight children and their spouses, and just a small stone's toss from each of their parents. Both of her parents are there, and so are both of mine. I have three brothers and two sisters buried there, and as it happens, so does she. It seems we have a great deal in common, besides our passion for Life.

To be in that place with my Aunt Ruth, the last remaining in her generation, is a honour. We happened to be there on the anniversary of the death of her own child, who died 21 years ago at the age of 26. It was just the right place for us to be that day.

After our tasks were completed there, we headed to the lake. We walked and talked. And talked and walked. And then we sat and talked. Then we went to bed, got up and started again.

We had a wonderful dinner with some of my cousins who live in that area. Her son, who was born the same year that I was, came out on his motorcycle and I jumped at the chance to go for a ride. When I returned I asked Aunt Ruth if she had ever been on a motorcycle. She said no, but someday she would.  I asked: ‘Why not now?’ She said ‘Sure!’. That’s the Aunt Ruth I know – it’s always ‘SURE!’  “Would you like to go to Newfoundland: Sure!”  “Would you like to … whatever … every single time with me, it’s been ‘Sure!’  She's the one who's motto is: 'If anyone asks you to go somewhere - GO. Or they'll stop asking.'

So she hopped on the bike. Truly she did.  Supple and nimble – she HOPPED on the bike. She greatly enjoyed it, just as she does all of life.  She values each and every day and makes the most of it.  She is an inspiration and example to so many ... especially me.

She shared her take on the secret of aging well: that the ‘trouble with a lot of seniors is that they expect to be catered to. If they’d forget about that and get out and help someone else instead, they’d be a lot better off.’ Wisdom really for any age: quit thinking about yourself and put your energy into others.

She sent me home with carrots and tomatoes from her garden and a handmade quilt for her new great nephew, Spencer, and one for the child who hasn't arrived yet. She has made almost a hundred baby quilts in the past couple years, sending most off with the missions and always with a stack ready for any little babe that comes into her life. 

Yes... my ambition is to have the health, the stamina and the rich and full life that Aunt Ruth has. Actually, I am totally blessed with that now - I just want to keep it when I grow up.

1 comment:

Trish said...

what a tribute..not to your Aunt Ruth, but to life. You can see the energy and spark she has in the photos. I can't believe this woman is such an advanced age. I can't say 'old', because she certainly isn't that. Thanks for introducing us.