The Winter of Our Years: Not Quite Yet
By Michael J Morris
It never entered my mind that I may now be in the Winter years of my life until I received an email from a friend expressing condolences on the death of my cousin.
The email expressed the thought that we are in the “winter” of our years, and may have arrived sooner than we thought.
It was a most kind message, but it got me thinking about the Winter years -- was I really there now?
Gosh, it seems like just yesterday that I was cruising the sidewalks of my home town on my tricycle, and making the trip up and over the horseshoe bridge to visit my grandparents on the other side of town. That was in the 1940s.
It seems that it was only yesterday that my cousins were singing 'She'll be Coming Round the Mountain' on the day our grandmother arrived home from England in 1944 after serving as a Red Cross nurse with the British Army in England since 1939. I told them she was coming from Toronto and there no mountains on the route.
It was only a moment ago that my mother and I got on the evening Canadian Pacific Railway train for an overnight ride to Toronto to visit family and friends there, or board another train to head into the United States to visit folks there.
It doesn't seem that long ago since I took my first airplane ride over Pittsburgh in a Piper Cub with Iven Nichol as the pilot, one of my father's best friends from RCAF days, and his daughter Sandy as the other passenger. That was about 1953, only 60 years ago.
When I am out and about I sometimes still sing 'Heart of My Heart' that our Bantam team sang over and over again in our private railway car on the way to and from Sudbury to play hockery in 1954.
My lifelong friend Butch sent me an email about my cousin recalling time we all spent at the camp my mother and grandfather built at Healy shortly after the end of World War II. Sure I did, and I remember learning all about canoes from my grandfather who despised outboard motors.
My old friend Ken enjoyed a story I had written about a local businessman, and thanked me for including a photo from his days working in the man's department store after school and during holidays. That was about 1958.
I recall vividly the day my uncle, my cousin's father, and my grandmother drove me from Chapleau to Timmins to start my first full-time job as a daily newspaper reporter. I just calculated and that was only 49 years ago now.
OK, I admit that I took early retirement from College of the Rockies 13 years ago, and was feeling a little tired when I decided to call it quits after 32 years as a teacher.
And I stopped riding my bicycle a few years ago because I started to become concerned about a tumble. And, I curse the city now when the sidewalks aren't plowed in the winter immediately after a snow storm even though I was raised in a village where side streets may never be plowed.
Yes, I walk by those new tennis courts on Second Street North, and want to go and play just one set for old times' sake but realistically it ain't gonna happen.
But, I walk about five miles a day, and swim at least 250 metres daily -- well kinda, but I have to admit that I use a noodle for assistance -- but the lifeguards at the Cranbrook Aquatic Centre now think I should spend half my time without it. And who am I to argue. Most are about 50 years or so younger than me.
My Winter years though. Not quite yet. Robert Frost, one of my favorite poets ended his poem 'Stopping by Woods on Snowy Evening' with
The woods are lovely, dark and deep
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
That's my plan too.
Let me leave you with one of my favorite sayings attributed to Etienne de Grellet (1773-1855), a Quaker missionary:
"I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."
To me at least, that's a great way to spend the Winter years. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Full disclosure: I am not now and never have been a member of the Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society; however, I did conduct a workshop for its members for which I was paid.