My name is Brenda Henry. I live in Montreal, Canada. I’m a semi- retired teacher.
A couple years ago, I started gardening for seniors in my area, and that’s when I met some outstanding, brave, smart and sweet seniors.
When I say senior, I’m taking people 80 years old and up. People I rarely see featured on your show.
People from the Greatest Generation.
Take Mae for example.
Mae is an 83 year old widow, living solo up my street. She must have liked the gardening flier I dropped in her mail box, as she called me the next day.
“Are you Darth Weeder?”
“Yes I am.”
“Well, with a name like that, I just have to meet you.”
Mae invited me for a looky-loo at her garden beds, and then asked me to weed, edge, pluck, separate, yank, transplant and mulch the entire perimiter of her house.
The job took me three five hour shots.
But that’s not what this story is about.
This story is about the pervasive nasty treatment of seniors.
As I got to know Mae, she let me in on her past. Her father was a veterinarian. Mae is an animal lover, so when her neighbor’s dog died, Mae knew exactly how to console her.
Mae’s husband was an elementary school principal.
A photo of him sits on her fireplace mantel. He’s a handsome dude in an Air Force uniform.
Mae and husband were very happy. They never had children of their own, but chose to send money for a child from India to help pay for his clothing and education.
Mae is determined to stay in her home as long as possible. She has friends from church, pals in the neighborhood and deep roots on the West Island.
Her knees are painful from a life of hard work and she might have to quit lawn bowling.
Her three bedroom home is immaculate. She’s generous, honest and smart.
Recently Mae had some kind of operation on her eyes, but she can still drive.
When I was at her house this week, beauty parloring her gardens, Mae told me her two nephews are getting set to renovate her bathroom.
So, sweetheart Mae drove up to Rona, a big box home ware store to select tiles.
But Mae waited and waited for service, while two college kid clerks stood around yakking it up and ignoring her, even though the place was near empty.
Finally, Mae interrupted their blabber, asking if they could show her the tile section.
“The two boneheads responded by flippantly pointing in a general direction “they’re all over there.”
So Mae trotted along looking. The tile section was pretty thin. Nothing looked suitable.
Mae went back to the clerks…”Is that all you have in tiles?”
“Say, one of the pinheads giggled….why don’t you put wallpaper in your bathroom?”
“I don’t think wallpaper would last long inside the shower,” replied Mae.
“Oh it’s all the style now. Everyone is using wallpaper in the bathroom. It’s all waterproof.”
Mae spun on her heel and walked out.
And she’s never going back.
Last summer, Mae asked me if I like to read. I said reading is a passion. I used to get in trouble for reading long into the night when I should have been sleeping.
“Well, have you read Harry Potter?”
“Are you kidding me? I want you to take this first book home and read it.”
To please her, I put the book in my car. That night, I hauled it out and read the first page. Hooked. Just like that.
As soon as I finished the first book, Mae handed me the next one.
I read them all.
Oprah, millions of seniors are out there reading, writing, working, learning, playing, designing, laughing, singing, and staying healthy.
Your show could be the change agent to reverse ageist attitudes.
Will you think about showcasing more seniors?