Robertson Davies.

BOOMER TALK: Extraordinary People

Let me introduce you to a couple of ordinary people whose lives have been, or are, extraordinary.

It’s interesting how sometimes the good things we observe become viewed as being ‘cheesy.’

The word inspiration could fall into that category these days, as it seems to be almost overused on Facebook. So, the true meaning and impact of the word may have been lessened and may have fallen into the ‘schmaltzy’ not-be-taken-too-seriously category. But let me introduce you to a couple of ordinary people whose lives have been, or are, extraordinary.

Audrey has spent 84 years on this earth, raising five children along the way. She has 10 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. She shared with me that the word can’t is not in her vocabulary. She tells me she has replaced it with can. I believe her and you might too.

Now don’t assume that because she is in her 8oth decade that she has slowed down.

Recently, she built a back deck, and because she wasn’t 100 per cent pleased with it, she ripped out part of it and did it again and then (because why not?) she painted her entire house — well almost, some of it needs to be finished next year — when she’s 85. This means scaffolding folks, or, at the very least, very tall ladders. OK — so let’s look at the word ‘inspiration’ and what it means. According to the Collins Dictionary, inspiration is “a feeling of enthusiasm you get from someone or something, which gives you new and creative ideas.”

Well, that certainly applies to Audrey. She makes a person feel like there is not much that could not be achieved. Her achievements also redefine old age. She is nobody’s ‘dear’ or ‘sweetie.’ Despite having some health challenges, she is a strong woman who does what needs to be done.

So now, please meet Deb. She raised eight children and has 27 grandchildren. Yep, 27. She works and also raises five of those grandchildren herself. (One or two of them have disabilities.) She has made huge contributions to society via employment with those who are marginalized in our community.

At one point in her life, she was also part of that community. So even more amazing that she moves forward with the side effect of unknowingly inspiring people along her path. Bonus.

Apparently, that isn’t quite enough, so this never-stop-moving woman also volunteers at the Powerhouse Theatre. Compared to earlier times in her life (which were less than pleasant and trust me that is an understatement) she says “my life is damn near perfect today.”

It seems that some people that we meet are the epitomes of resilience and we are gobsmacked by their accomplishments. We may question where their resilience comes from. Nature or nurture… the question psychologists have been analyzing for years. There are examples of people who come from loving trauma-free homes, but fall through the cracks and can barely make it through the day. Then there are those who almost raised themselves, suffering horrific abuse and yet they move forward and are successful in their lives.

As Robertson Davies (1913 – 1995) once said, “Extraordinary people survive under the most terrible circumstances and they become more extraordinary because of it.”

Thank you to the two strong women who shared their stories with me. You are both inspirationally extraordinary.

Carole Fawcett is a freelance writer, humourist and retired counsellor. Carole Fawcett is a retired counsellor, freelance writer, and humourist. www.wordaffair.com

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