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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lucky Lady

Part 1 of 3

Just last night I returned from a mini trip to Canada, where we celebrated a very lucky lady. She’s my dynamic great-aunt Kay and she has lived an extraordinary life. Her four children all have children, and one branch of that family even boasts a great-great grandchild. On Aug. 16 she turned 104. Yes, 104. I was very lucky to be one of the guests at her party.

On Saturday more than forty of us gathered to sing “Happy Birthday” to Kay. The guest of honor was the oldest one there, and her 2-year-old great-granddaughter was the youngest present. We all took photos with Kay, congratulated her and chatted. She held my hand as we talked. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon in a park outside Vancouver. Fir trees and blackberries bordered the park. My dad’s cousin (in her mid-70s) threw a football with her grandson. We laughed and hugged and afterward, two of us picked blackberries. (Hey, they don’t grow by the side of the road in San Diego. We have to grab our chances when they come. For us, that’s an essential part of a trip to Western Canada.)

Kay isn’t physically as strong as she once was, but her spirit is bulletproof. This dynamic woman lived on her own until age 99, just months before her 100th birthday. What a lady. She inspires all of us with her longevity and with her character. I asked her years ago (when she was a mere 95) what her secret was. She thought a moment and said that she just didn’t worry too much. (At that moment I knew I was doomed. I worry! It’s part of being firstborn. Of course, Kay’s revelation led to my worrying that I worry too much. Which is hardly going to help me in my quest for longevity. Oh dear…)

Kay’s voice is soft and quiet now as she asks about the family back in California. She needs a wheel chair to get around, but that hasn’t stopped her. On Saturday she smiled and greeted her guests from her sparkly red wheelchair. So many family members came from different parts of British Columbia to see her. Several of us came from the states. Others came on ferries from islands in BC. This woman has fans big and small, each one in awe of a white-haired lady named Kay. There was so much love at her birthday party in the park. We all love her, and wanted to help her celebrate this milestone. What a lucky lady she is.

Yesterday, as I left Canada, I felt filled with gratitude for family. I’d had a meaningful visit with my amazing great aunt.

I feel like a very lucky lady, too…

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