Feeling proud…

When my grandson turned six, he decided that, instead of having kids bring him presents for his birthday party, he would have them bring a bit of money that he gave to me to take to Kenya to share with school kids there.  I was able to buy a soccer ball and books for three schools with the money he collected.  I also took a photo of him to each school.

When I returned to one of the schools a year later the children asked me “How is Noah Budd?”  They knew that he had helped them and were wanting to send greetings.  Last year it took me by surprise when I was in the office of yet another school and saw Noah’s photo on the wall.    I was delighted to make Noah aware that these children were grateful and appreciative of his generosity.

Maia 3In May, Noah’s sister, Emma,  sent me $10 of her birthday money and this afternoon, in the mail, I got a note and $10 fromtheir sister, Maia, who turns five today, money for the CanAssist African Relief Trust.

I am so proud of these kids (and their parents) for sharing their good fortune with others.

I have also gone to elementary schools where the kids have been very enthusiastic and motivated to help others in Africa.  Ms Paré’s Grade 4-5 class at Glenburnie School gathered $1300 this spring and this money is now being put to use to construct school furnishings for the St Catherine School in Kenya.

CanAssist  has also had generous support from children at Sweet’s Corners School, Rideau Vista School,  and Inglewood School in Toronto.

These kids seem to just realize that with really very little effort and sacrifice on their part (mainly enthusiasm and motivating others) they can make a really significant difference to the lives of children in Africa.

I am moved and proud of all of them for their altruism and I hope that their parents and neighbours and aunts and uncles can take a lesson from them and reach out to help others both at  home and in the developing world – because we can assist.

Kids at the Kanyala Little Stars School in Mbita Kenya sing a song for Noah Budd.

Time marches on…and so will I.

Today I celebrate my 65th birthday. Initially I put “turn” 65 but realized that this not only sounds like a child talking (“I’m five, turning six in August.”) but also the “turning” word signfies a change. Leaves “turn” brown and fall off the trees in the autumn. The weather “turns” colder. To every thing, there is a season.

I am really no different than I was yesterday. I haven’t “turned” at all.

This is the summer that I “turned” six. With my little brother, Bob.

For some reason there are certain birthdays that carry significance more than others. I remember “turning” 16 and being able to get my beginners driver’s license. It was a big deal. I felt like I had grown up. Little did I know. But it was a birthday to be anticipated with some excitement as it carried with it promises of increased rewards. Growth. Expansion. Benefits.

In a similar way, I recall being 21 and going to a bar and being able to legally order an alcoholic drink, actually hoping that someone would check my I.D.

I had no trouble with 40, 50 or even 60. I felt that these markers were middle-age and also had some benefits. Maturity, some financial security, established friendships and professional life and a certain degree of autonomy that only comes as you age.

There are some benefits, to being 65, I guess, but they seem to be overshadowed by the hovering grim reaper. I will save $1 when I go to the Screening Room for a movie. I will legally qualify for seniors discounts at several places. When I go to a Denny’s I can officially order the seniors meal – smaller, less salt, less fat, less everything. I hope they don’t offer me crayons. I rarely go to Denny’s so this won’t help me much.

I got to apply for the Old Age Security benefits – yes, Old Age. They will all be all clawed back so it makes me wonder if this is some sort of pretend advantage to ageing. I told someone this week that it was a bit like a dream. I am not “old”. When you apply for the Old Age Security the envelope you send the application in has “Old Age” printed on the front in big letters. A “rub-it-in” I thought. Or maybe they are trying to get people not to apply.

I got a couple of birthday cards this week – and some had the traditional “too many candles to blow out” message. That is just fine with me. I do have a sense of humour and can take some gentle ribbing about my advancing age. But I also got a card from the university saying that because I had reached 65 my dental insurance coverage would be cancelled at the end of this month. Happy Birthday. Gum your way into senility. Or maybe the plan was set up expecting most people over 65 to have long since lost their teeth. Whatever. It was a bit of a punishment for reaching this age.

Having said all this, I also recognize that I am very fortunate. I have good health, am able to play squash with people 20 years younger than I am, still can remember lines and do Shakespeare (or as in the Coarse Acting play I was just in, pseudo-Shakespeare). I have the flexibility to continue to work, but at my own pace, travel to visit friends when I want and enjoy visits (including a birthday dinner tonight) with my family which extends from my 92 year old Dad (what must that be like?) to my youngest of 5 grandchildren checking in at 1.

I will get over this psychological hump – probably by tomorrow – and settle in to my new age, recognizing that it is only a number and that I am no different than I was last week. A little older, a very little bit wiser and able to unabashedly get senior rates at Shopper’s Drug Mart on Thursdays!

Spring 2012 – Tofino B.C.