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Reflections: Now more than ever, enjoy each moment

Words of wisdom from Erna de Burger-Fex

Do you remember the old song that goes, “We’ll have these moments to remember”? For some reason that line came into my head recently – no reason why, it just did. This happens to you when you’re 70+. Random thoughts just show up. But that’s not what I began to write about according to the title of this essay.

Enjoying each moment is what memories are made of. My babies’ first smiles, that first kiss, holding hands with my first boyfriend (not Alex), my Dad telling me that my baby sister, Marianne, was born on my 11th birthday, my brother Ron’s wonderful hugs, watching my parents dance to music on the radio in the kitchen — wait, I’m not finished!

When Alex proposed to me in September of 1962, I was exhilarated! (No, he did not get down on one knee – he didn’t need to. He knew I would say yes!) One of the best moments of my life for sure! Our wedding day in 1963 was filled with numerous special moments in which I basked and will never forget.

Happy moments such as my daughters’ weddings are lifetime memories. Looking at those photos bring those delightful days back to me. Holding my first grandchild in my arms gave me an indescribable feeling of joy.

You can’t understand the deep emotion a grandchild brings until you experience it. Four more grandchildren allowed me to experience that wonderful appreciation again each time. Years later, a great grandchild came into my life. That is an even deeper unbelievable emotion as I had not ever anticipated that I would become a joyous great grandmother.

Watching my granddaughter with her baby in her arms made that real as well as wondrous. Certainly, a moment to enjoy! And no, becoming a great grandmother did not suddenly make me feel old!

My graduation with a degree from Laurentian University at age 59 completed a life-long dream. My 85-year-old Dad travelled from Chatham to share that satisfying day. That was indeed a moment to remember, so precious to me! My eldest daughter and her two children journeyed from Toronto as well, which I loved. We were present with four generations!

Stepping on the ground the first time I returned to my homeland gave me such a thrill. We had left The Netherlands 14 years before. I was a child when we immigrated and returned as a married woman with a young baby. Seeing my maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother, and other family members was very emotional for me and were definitely moments I enjoyed very much.

My homeland is embedded deep within my soul and always will be. Does that make me less of a Canadian? Definitely not! The moment when I received my Canadian citizenship paper I was elated! I will never forget that and I am proud to be a citizen of this beautiful diverse country.

Besides, receiving two pension cheques from the Canadian government every month helps this senior Canadian appreciate retirement and all the opportunities that gives me. (Time to get to all my doctor’s appointments!)

Every spring seeing that first robin and a crocus emerge from the snow brings me great joy. My husband bringing me a cheery bouquet of tulips unexpectedly from the store always makes me smile.

In my opinion, flowers are “food for my soul” and I need that often. He knows that and that in itself is gratifying. Being invited for dinner is a moment to revel in. The delicious glass of red wine which often accompanies that is always appreciated. Friends dropping by for a chat is wonderful and makes me happy to know I am loved, and that’s a good thing!

Sad moments also form my memories. The most searing of those is remembering my mother putting a mirror in front of Marianne’s mouth to determine that she was no longer breathing. She was just a year old.

Second to that very painful memory is when my parents came home after seeing my brother Willy at the hospital take his last breaths. He was 15. Holding my mother-in-law in my arms as she took her final breaths, that was a sad privilege. Observing my daughter saying farewell to her grand’maman after her Dad picked her up at school, was emotional and unforgettable.

Enjoying each moment also encompasses tragic moments in my life because they are engraved in my mind as well as the enjoyable ones.

Erna de Burger-Fex is a writer and retired teacher who writes about aging and the funny side of getting older.