When our kids were young, we had a wonderful neighbour named Mark Berry.
Mark was in his 60’s and lived on his own on our lake. His family was in Toronto, so he adopted us and we adopted him. Our dogs became best friends and we’d often have Mark over for a beer or dinner.
Every time Mark came for dinner, he’d bring us presents, claiming it was an “unbirthday party”.
There’d be huge stuffed animals for the girls, something for the kitchen or a bottle of wine for me, and usually something fish-related for Dave. These were some of our favourite nights.
Last weekend, it was our turn to pay it forward and hold an unbirthday party for a group of friends we’ve been getting together with for almost 20 years.
We brought wine drinking team t-shirts and socks for the girls, water bottles for the kids, funny beer koozies for the boys and a few other gifts for the real birthday boy who happened to be celebrating that weekend. I think everyone appreciated their gifts.
The best gift is having this wonderful group of friends who we’ve shared so many memories with in our lives.
This week’s #HappyAct is to plan an unbirthday party for a special group of people. May it bring many happy memories and returns.
Yesterday we celebrated the 85th birthday of someone who holds a special place in many hearts, Audrey Tarasick.
I first met Audrey in 1979 when her daughter Leslie and I became inseparable as teenagers. Audrey lived on a farm north of Kingston where she had moved on her own to set up an alternative school. Fiercely independent, with a zest for adventure and life, yet soft-spoken, patient and loving, Audrey quickly became a unique role model in my life.
She was one of the only women I knew who was an expert woodworker and who converted the entire front section of her house into a workshop to make dollhouses. She was the first to say, “go for it” on hot summer days when she would take us to Eagle Lake for a swim even though we didn’t have our bathing suits.
She has taught us the precise time to sugar off, when the syrup drips deliciously from the ladle to form a silver dollar at maple syrup time. She has steadfastly refused over the years to “babysit” her grandchildren, opting to spend time with them instead, and as a result has close relationships with the 15 grandchildren who love her dearly today. She has taught me about parenting, and has been there for Dave and me during some of the most difficult times in our life.
I have learned so much from this incredible woman. But the thing I appreciate most about Audrey is her different viewpoint on life. Whether it’s global warming, parenting, politics or rural living, Audrey always has a unique and insightful perspective. There’s been many a time in the family kitchen during a heated discussion, I find myself wondering, “I wonder what Audrey is going to say.”
This week’s #HappyAct is to spend time with someone older and wiser than you. Listen to what pearls of wisdom they may share. Here was my favourite from yesterday. Audrey was shooting hoops in the basketball competition, and I teased her that she was grunting like the tennis pros. She said to me, “As you get older, everything is easier if you grunt”. Happy birthday, Audrey. Thanks for being such a wonderful friend and role model.