Tag Archives: Longevity

Saying Thanks and Saving Memories


“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”  ~G.K. Chesterton, 1874 – 1936 English writer and novelist

Today’s post must first be addressed to all those who have made comments on my blogs and whose comments have gone unacknowledged.

I decided that I would print out the blogs as a keepsake for my grandchildren so that they have some further idea about and insight into their Grandmother’s life and thoughts.  The plan is that they will be bound in a book form and left for them after I am dead.

So today I started on the task of printing.  And horror of horrors, I saw that in the early days of this blogging adventure, there were comments to which I hadn’t replied.  Well, maybe I could claim that I was unaware of comments and that they need to be replied to… But really, I do think that is a cop-out.

So to all of you who commented, my heartfelt thanks.  And if I didn’t respond I am truly sorry.  And here is a small gift for you all.


I am producing a Memory Book for my grandsons and so this Book of Blogs will be an adjunct to that.  The Memory Book is a random set of memories in no particular order, chronicling my life with their grandfather before I met him and since his death.


It is not meant to be writing my life story and it continues to be a work in progress.  I add memories when I think of something of interest.  I try to add at least one story a week but since I started on this blogging journey, I have not always managed to do so.

And when friends found out what I was doing they asked how they should go about doing the same thing.  So I put together a course on Gifting Your Stories to your Grandchildren.  I have run several courses and they have been well received.

Attendees on the course (which lasts for 6 weeks) are encouraged to write a story each week to bring to read to the other members.  Some of the stories are what you would expect of people’s lives but it is also amazing what some people have lived through.

There were tears and laughter aplenty in each session.  We had a few rules for the course, one of which was  “We will cultivate a safe environment in which to share our stories.  We will be non-judgmental and attentive to the needs of others in the group. ” This allowed the tears to flow.

One woman was in Tiananmen Square during the massacre and told how she lost touch with her friend, never to see him again.    If you are too young to remember this day in 1989 click here  for the BBC report.

Another woman told of being stopped when she was on her way home, in an area where warring factions were active, and having a knife held to her throat.  She told how many years later she could still smell the man’s breath as he leaned into her face. Apparently, she had never discussed this before with anybody other than family.  So I guess/hope it was a cathartic experience for her.

But many told of good things that had happened to them.  One man shared his joy when he discovered a child who had been adopted because he and his wife were not married.  They later did marry and it took some 20 years for them to be reunited with his son.

One woman told of her attempts at making a Christmas cake.  The whole place erupted into laughter.

One woman told of her travels and adventures in another land where she found herself and her children when her husband was transferred.  None of them (apart from the husband) had even a smattering of the local language.  As you can imagine this caused much hilarity both in real life and in the telling to the other members of the group.

So I encourage you to consider writing your memories.  I have a saying I coined for my courses, and it is now framed and on the wall of my study :

“Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health. But no one can ever take away your precious memories.”

One of the things I have on my TO DO list is to publish a book sharing how to do this.   I have all the information, the pages and a workbook so what is stopping me from publishing, even self-publishing as I have done with another book?

Cover of Book on Memories

And yet another quote from my favourite book

“She generally gave herself good advice (though she very seldom followed it)”  Lewis Carrol from Alice in Wonderland


I am Becoming the Woman I’ve Wanted

“I am becoming the woman I’ve wanted,
grey at the temples, soft body delighted, cracked up by life
with a laugh that’s known bitter but past it, got better,
knows she’s a survivor –
that whatever comes, she can outlast it.
I am becoming a deep weathered basket.”
Jayne Relaford Brown, American poet and teacher of Creative Writing.

This poem Finding Her Here opens the book I am Becoming the Woman I’ve Wanted.

Today’s blog was ‘inspired’ by a comment received on an earlier post.  I am sure that the commenter did not mean any disparagement but said words to the effect that he was surprised to find such a well-written blog and by a 72-year-old widow at that.

So I began to think what do others expect of older widows?  Granny duck

  • When my eldest grandson was at kindergarten the class was asked to talk about their grandmothers.  Most children apparently, gave glowing comments on how their grandmothers baked or knitted.  James piped up that his grandmother wore a hard hat and went on building sites – I did.
  • I wonder how Ruth Rendell’s grandchildren would describe her?  Ruth Rendell is a Socialist baroness and is the author of the highly successful Inspector Wexford mysteries  Including those of Wexford, she has written more than 70 books and is still writing well into her 80s.
  • And Barbara Walters is well known to all who live in North America.  This vibrant  American broadcast journalist and author also is in her 80s.  A year ago she underwent heart surgery and she is still involved and asking probing questions on air .
  • Isabel Allende is a Chilean novelist, author of several novels and a short fiction collection, as well as plays and stories for children. Born in 1942,  she has received international acclaim for her writing.
  • And the list goes on – Jean Auel, author of Earth’s Children® books, a series of novels set in prehistoric Europe is 75 and still writing;
  • Kuki Gullmann of whom I wrote in an earlier post is 68 years old.  Novelist and founder of the Gullmann Memorial Foundation in honour of her husband and son who were both killed in Africa;
  • Maya Angelou, born 1928, is an American author and poet who has been called “America’s most visible black female autobiographer”.
  • Apologies to the many amazing older women I have left out.  This is not because I think the accomplishments of those listed here are of greater worth, but simply because I would need to write for a couple of weeks to cover them all.

So to the person who made the comment – I thank you for the gracious things you said about my blog, but draw your attention to the fact that I still have many more years to live and many more adventures to have.  Writing my blog is just one of them.

Granny on computer

“The strength of women comes from the fact that psychology cannot explain us.
Men can be analyzed, women merely adored.” –
Oscar Wilde


Discovering Something New Each Day

Following on my determination not to let my mind lie fallow, I went with a friend to a presentation by Paul Hoogendyk on his travels with his wife Phoebe, to many corners of the world to meet with the ‘keepers of the ancient knowledge’.  Paul is a master carver of greenstone, the nephrite jade that comes from the South Island of New Zealand.  It is known as pounamu by the local Maoris.

The spiritual significance of greenstone has long been recognized in New Zealand and many believe that if a person is attracted to wearing a carving it will have an enhancing and empowering effect on their life.

Paul has been called upon by the Ancients to make 12 carvings to be planted around the world in various sacred places.  Read about Paul and Phoebe and their travels at www.ancientpathways.com.au.

I came away with much to think about after the presentation.  Paul is a master of story weaving and kept us entranced with his gift.  He told us a little of the people and places he and Phoebe have visited since their journey began.  I am looking forward to reading his book which we bought and listening to his meditation CDs (which I won in a draw).

So continue to stretch your mind.  Who knows where each thing will lead you?  For myself I am now on a path to discover more Story Weavers to hear and read about.

Until tomorrow.  Remember you are in control of how you will spend the rest of your life.  Will you have to ask your daughter “Who are you?”

Mother and her daughters c1945

Chronology vs Biology

Ask any of your friends and colleagues if they think aging is something that can be controlled and most will say that nothing  can be done about it, that it simply happens and that’s that.

By now you will know that my answer to that is that they are wrong.  We may be lucky in having good, long life genes but the choices we make throughout our lives have a much greater impact than the genes we have been dealt.

We know that our bodies are continuously replacing cells and that billions of cells are turned over daily.  And for this reason, we need to be careful of the lifestyle choices we make.  As much as possible, we need to ensure that those choices are good and healthy ones because the renewal process works best if we provide the proper nutrients.

Added to this healthy lifestyle of exercise, what, how and when we eat, is the ever-present matter of our mind.

We now know that along with this cell regeneration our brain cells also can regenerate.  Much research has led to this discovery and many learned papers have been written on the subject.

I have no formal medical degree; no degree in neurology and would not presume to discuss this in detail but I am convinced that we can halt the deterioration of our mind, by simply taking care not to let our mind lie idle for any length of time.

My father at age 80 was diagnosed with macular degeneration and was told that he would inevitably go blind.  Now he was one of that older generation used to fending for himself.  He did the crossword every day without fail and as soon as discovered he had this condition he set about (with the help of my sister) training himself to do the crossword even though he would be unable to read the clues or see how the words fitted in.  To do this he would have my sister read the clues and over time became quite adept at completing the crossword.

You see, he had seen how the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease had robbed my mother of the use of her mind and was determined that it wouldn’t happen to him.  I am pleased to report that when he eventually left this earth at age 97 he was in total control of all his faculties.

So here was another example of what I should do with the rest of my life.

There is a difference between our chronological age and our biological age.  Chronological age is determined by calculating the years between the date of our birth and now; biological age is calculated by how old we are perceived to be.  This is based on how we appear, feel and act.  Unfortunately, these age barometers are not often in step.

I certainly don’t feel 72 (my chronological age) and according to those around me I don’t act that age.  So let’s see what we can do to improve our biological age while ignoring our chronological one.

Have you heard of Mavis Lindgren?  She is the 90-year-old marathon runner.  She retired in 1997 after running her 75th marathon.  This from Patrick Roden, A critical care nurse, who was a medical volunteer at the Portland Marathon of 1992 when he came to the aid of the celebrated 85-year-old marathoner, Mavis Lindgren

“What makes her story all the more exceptional to me is that at age 62, Mavis was leading a sedentary life, spending most of time reading, writing and knitting. She had suffered four bouts of pneumonia in five years and, as a retired nurse, she knew the antibiotics weren’t the long-term solution. Something had to change. A doctor urged her to join an early bird walking group. At age 70, encouraged by her son, she ran her first marathon! Two years later, she established a record of 4:33.05, and for the next eight years, held the world’s best time for women 70 and over. And at 84 she finished the Los Angeles Marathon

in 6 hours 45 minutes-the fastest woman in her age category. “After I started running, I never had another cold,” she said”

I am not suggesting that we all become marathon runners, but I do suggest that we take time to look at our sedentary lives and introduce a little exercise into them.