Thursday, 29 August 2013

Thursday's Random Thought (Monday Morning)

We all need a little uplifting now and again.  No matter our age, or which battle we are facing I think we can all take a page out of this amazing lady’s book on how to live life to it’s fullest as a healthy, happy person.

This is my little homage to 104-year-old Ida Hall.


I am not much of a morning person, so I take great comfort in the simple rituals that start my days.  My most difficult maneuver is getting my feet planted on the floor and putting one foot in front of the other to make it to the kitchen where I start the coffee maker, feed the cats and then shuffle into the bathroom for my shower.  By the time I’m done there I am a little wider awake and the coffee is ready to hopefully finish the job.  After taking that first sip of coffee I make my breakfast and sit down to watch City TV’s Breakfast Television.

City’s Breakfast Television is a “light” morning show focusing on human-interest stories, entertainment news, traffic and weather.  If there is anything earth shattering going on in the world there will be a few minutes coverage about it at the top of the hour in the news segment.  That’s about all I can handle first thing in the morning.

“Roving reporter” Jennifer Valentyne, travels to various locations across south-central Ontario to participate in events like charity runs, to check out Wiarton Willy on Groundhog Day, participate in new openings of stores, visit the Boat Show, the Car show, the Food Show, to welcome the new Pandas to the Toronto Zoo … I am sure you get the idea.  This past Monday her “Live Eye” segment was an early morning report from St. Hilda’s Towers, a fairly upscale retirement and assisted living facility.

I am not certain as to the number of seniors residing at the residence, but amazingly 14 of them are celebrating birthdays of 100 years or beyond in 2013.


Obviously St. Hilda’s takes extremely good care of their residents, but my mind does not travel in that direction early on a Monday morning.  Sadly, my first thought was “Geez, when the time comes, don’t put me in there.  They don’t let you die!”

My bad.

Sipping my coffee I continued to watch as Jenn interviewed those (mostly women !?!?!) celebrating the century+ milestone.  I was astonished at how beautiful these seniors were.  They were all decked out in their birthday celebration clothes enjoying a lovely breakfast with their family and friends.  (As I was sitting there in my favorite, seen-better-days bathrobe)

My father was in assisted living facilities due to his dementia/Alzheimer’s.  He was a wanderer so as his disease progressed so did the level of security in the residences in which he lived.  They were all lovely homes staffed by extremely caring individuals.  I have nothing bad to say about any of them.  But these ladies, they were a totally different story from any perspective I have about aging gracefully.

They were sharp!  No signs of dementia or fading faculties in these ladies!  They maintained their sense of humor, their pride in appearance, their activity levels (each taking part in exercise programs and social activities St. Hilda’s provides).  Aside from age, there did not seem to be any particular demographic represented.  Accents could be detected in some indicating Canada was not their country of origin.  Some were shy in speaking in front of the City TV camera and others were very comfortable.  They listened intently and answered Jenn’s questions patiently and thoroughly. 

The ladies were sitting at individual tables surrounded by their own families, friends and loved ones so could not compare answers to the questions, but when asked the secret to their longevity they all agreed it was living a life filled with purpose, fun and most importantly love.  Most agreed that having good genes helped a lot too!  The part that completely made my morning and sent me off to work with a smile was a comment made by 104-year-old Ida Hall

What a lovely affirmation of life to see on a Monday morning.

One of Ida’s fellow residents, Eva Altay, a native of Budapest, is by all outward appearances a feisty lady, full of gumption and determination.  She broke her hip recently while doing Tai-Chi (of course) and absolutely vowed that she would not be wheelchair bound.  She has been doing physio three-times weekly and credits that for keeping her mobile. Quoting from the Toronto Sun newspaper interview “’I look after myself completely,’ the petite former lawn bowler told me proudly.  ‘I try to be as self-confident as I can be.’”

Ida also takes part in the physio program three times a week and credits that with keeping her independently mobile, albeit with the help of a walker (cheerfully decked out with yellow roses).  She also participates in exercise classes. 

I can only hope to be as vibrant, active, sharp and happy as Ida if I am fortunate enough to make it to some ripe old age.  Personally, I think I am more apt to be the crazy cat lady, sitting on her front porch in her purple hat, shaking her fist and yelling at the kids to get off the lawn.

Unfortunately, the reason that Eva Altay and Ida Hall were in the paper was not because of Ida’s upcoming 105th birthday, but because cutbacks in government funding to the physio-therapy program at St. Hilda’s will keep her, Eva and other residents from receiving the much needed care enabling them to remain both mobile and non-dependent of full time care givers.  That, however, is a topic for another time and place.

Back to Jennifer Valentyne’s interviews that morning.  I went off to work with that big smile I mentioned before because when Jennifer walked over to Ida and showed her the paper, pointing out that Ida herself had made the front page (pictured below) …

… rather than becoming flustered by her new-found notoriety, neither embarrassed nor tickled to be on the front page of the paper, her only comment was “Oh my!  I look old.”

Bless your heart Ida … YOU LOOK BEAUTIFUL!

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