At 77

Growing old
is not like growing
more like slowing, undergoing
long agoing, touch-and-going
and foregoing, knowing
that what lies ahead
will certainly
need grace.

Barrie Shepherd
The Christian Century, 2012


  Olga Kotelko, a former Canadian schoolteacher currently living in Vancouver, turns 95 years of age in March. She is an all-star masters athlete – holding all the track and field world records for her age category 90-95.

See below for review of the newly launched book about her.

Aging in Community News

“The Sharing Solution” by Bolton Anthony

The challenges of home ownership can reach a point where they flat overwhelm you. You find yourself rattling around in a space much too large and unsuited to your current needs. So you consider relocating: to a smaller, more compact home with a low- or no-maintenance yard. Or to a continuing care retirement facility. But what to do with all the STUFF! Years and years of stuff.

A lot of people around the country are asking similar questions: How many of these things do we need? What can we share? If you’re stuck for an answer, just go out to your garage or up into your attic and look around. Many things we use only rarely. The power washer — how often do you need one? An extension ladder, a wheel barrow, camping gear, folding tables and chairs for a special family reunion? Getting the idea? And don’t stop with things. Think about space: plots of land that can become common vegetable and herb gardens or children’s playgrounds; garages that can be used to fix cars, support work projects, or maintain a tool-lending library. Janelle Orsi, a West Coast expert on “sharing law” (yes, there is such a field) wrote a fine, thick book, The Sharing Solution.

>>To Read More

 Writing Exercise

Review Shepherd’s poem above. Write your version of what aging is not like and what it is like. Find some rhyming or alliterative words for expressing these comparisons.

Book Review

What Makes Olga Run? The Mystery of the 90-Something Track Star, and What She Can Teach Us About Living Longer, Happier Lives

Bruce Grierson;      Toronto: Random House Canada, 2014.

Grierson is a middle-aged fellow who thought he was looking at his own inevitable aging decline until he met the inspiring Olga Kotelko.  He teaches us some of the life lessons he has been learning from Olga, a single mom now proud of her grandchildren.

Olga took up track and field competitions at the age of 77. Both her body and her brain are in better shape now than back then – nearing age 95. Grierson reports on Olga’s brain scans – greater mass than most middle-aged research participants – and how some measurement tasks just do not work the same for participants in Olga’s generation, such as responding in virtual reality to tests of physical and mental agility. Olga just thinks it would be stupid for a person to talk on a cell phone while crossing traffic, and her body can’t accustom itself to the impact of a video game crash.

Olga’s body has been changing since the age of 90, and she benefits from brief bouts with a trainer about shifting strategies and regaining confidence.

 Olga: People ask me why I don’t have arthritis. And the thing is, I used to.

Grierson: Olga’s biggest gift to me turns out not to be a set of rules but a shift in perspective.

Look around. .. This is your life. Its awesomeness is eluding you. Pay attention. Yes, there will come a time when you have genuine, life-threatening ailments. But, for now, stop your kvetching. And stop dreading birthdays that end in zeros. Those zeros can pull you under, like stones in your pocket. At your age, your story is not ending: you know that.

With this ‘by-the-fence’ shadow photo, I bid you adieu