I’ve known ‘e’ for close to twenty-five years—since he was but a lad in his mid seventies—and he hasn’t changed a lot, though he’d probably beg to differ where walking is concerned. Not as easy, he’d say. Well, at three years shy of a century you’re allowed to take your time.
Sometime before her 101st birthday, my friend Judy said (and these are her words) that if you lived long enough you’d eventually lose it from either the neck up or the neck down. She might be right but it’s about degrees. And attitude. She lost the ability to get around on her own, but it didn’t stop her doing much.
‘e’ is much the same.
Maybe it’s that generation, something in the water. Or, more likely, not in it. Some pretty amazing role models where aging is concerned. And yet society doesn’t celebrate this kind of aging… Funny bunch, society.
Things about ‘e’ that I happen to know: he likes chocolate but not fish. He reads widely and avidly and is currently addicted to a series of excellent detective novels. His memory is mind-bogglingly sharp. He played football when helmets were made of leather and lined with sheepskin and once had a rustic cottage in the Gatineau. He is among the kindest people you might ever meet, and possesses one of those smiles it’s impossible not to return.
Here, then, is but a thin slice of this dear man, ‘e’…
How long could you go without talking? Better part of the day.
Do you prefer silence or noise? Silence, with a limit.
How many pairs of shoes do you own? Three or four. You should change shoes ever day, better for the feet.
If you won the lottery? Give away to loved ones, children.
One law you’d make? Can’t think of one.
Unusual talent? I’ve been told I’m not a bad singer. Started lessons at age 21; good but not professional quality.
What do you like to cook? Nothing. Never do.
Have you or would you ever bungee jump? No.
What’s the most dare-devilish thing you’ve done? Swam to an island quite a distance from cottage and back at age 10.
Do you like surprise parties, practical jokes? Neither.
Favourite time of day? Late afternoon.
What tree would you be? Why would I want to be a tree?
Best present ever received? The luck of two good marriages.
Best present ever given? Probably some small gift to my mother.
What do you like on your toast? Orange marmalade.
The last thing you drew a picture of? I don’t draw pictures. Am most unartistic.
Last thing written in ink? A letter.
Favourite childhood meal/food? Mother made cut out heads (cookies) from Dec. 5 to 25. Each day we kids took turns taking one.
What [past] age is your favourite? 20
Would you go back if you could? No.
Best invention? Car
Describe your childhood bedroom. Wallpaper, big window, faced west; I liked the window open.
Afraid of spiders? Not particularly.
Phobias? A little afraid of heights. I wanted to be paratrooper in the war so I tested my nerve by jumping from the high diving board at the local pool.
Least favourite teacher and why? Ms. Davies in grade 2. She had a moustache and her hair in bun. I was strapped once and thought it was unjust; my dad spoke to her to straighten things out.
Favourite children’s story? Was read to but can’t remember titles.
Ideal picnic ingredients? Hot dogs.
Best thing about Canada? Sober second thought.
Best thing about people in general? Ability to accept each other.
What flavour would you be? Chocolate.
What colour? Red.
What would you come back as? Myself.