Growing Old with Grace…in Esquimalt
Silver Threads – by Esquimalt resident Mitch Stirling
The story goes that many years ago a remote tribe in Indonesia; on the island of Bali, I believe, used to sacrifice and eat their old men.
The Vancouver islanders, I’m exquisitely pleased to say, would never be tempted to pop my 64 year old bod’ in a missionary pot, or stretch me out like a rack of ribs on a barbeque. Rare, medium or well done, I don’t think I would ever tempt the taste buds of even the very least discerning cannibal gastronome!
On the contrary, as a new immigrant to Canada, it is a wonderful thing to discover that the ‘more mature citizens’ (like me) are generally treated with great care and kindness by society. Not that I am a particularly old specimen, but the chances are that I will live a few years longer here in my newly adopted country than in my old home in Africa where life was becoming a serious daily test of survival.
My own dearest mother, bless her, died there a short while ago because there was no blood for a transfusion that she desperately needed, and there was no gas for her cremation, and we buried her in a plain pine box, because grave robbers were digging up the expensive ones for resale.
You see what I mean? It’s a fact; life for the elderly in Esquimalt is kinder and gentler and very noticeable it is too to a newcomer. Numerous walking examples of this can be seen everywhere on any day of the week, happily going about their daily tasks.
That’s a wonderful compliment to Canadian society as a whole, and as I rush towards my allotted three score and ten (with drogues fully out to slow things down) I realize more and more that this is a good place to be, geographically and emotionally.
As you start to get a bit longer in the tooth, you suddenly wake up one day to the realization that you have became somewhat segregated by age and almost “invisible”. You have passed your “sell-by” date. You can’t press “replay”. But, gradually, you come to terms with this, plus the inevitable fact that you may not make the Winter Olympics team next time around, or play ice hockey for the Canucks!
At this point in life’s colourful pageant, you also need things that you never imagined you would need. It happens to all of us, I promise.
Most certainly you do not want is to be a burden on anybody, nor a financial drain on the ‘system’.
What you do want is to cruise quietly in the sure knowledge that people care and are still interested in your ‘silly’ old stories. In Esquimalt this happens; it’s part of the social culture, it’s a way of life.
Now where’s my Harley? I’m off on a ‘quiet cruise’. And I think I’ll drop a pony tail, and get me some tattoos (Army and Leggy on the appropriate parts!) and a droopy Mex moustache. And a crash helmet like the old Kaiser used to wear with a spike on top!
Esquimalt Review contributing writer Mitch Stirling is a recent African immigrant to Canada who settled in Esquimalt in the Craigflower Road area last year. Previously a resident of Zimbabwe, Mitch is very appreciative of his new adopted country and remains very concerned for the future of his motherland. Email Mitch at email@example.com