For my Life-cycles & Aging course, I was asked to write an essay about someone I know who I believe has aged well. I chose to write about my grandparents, Marcel and Linda Bourque. Enjoy 🙂
A Story of Longevity
When asked to write about someone I know that has aged well, the first people that popped into my mind were my mamère and papère – my grandparents on my mother’s side. The best way I can describe these two individuals is by saying that they are the most caring, gentle, kind, loving, accepting and gracious souls to have ever touched my life. I consider myself very fortunate to still have them in my life. My mamère is now 74 and my papère is 83. There are many things I have noticed about my grandparents over the years that I believe have contributed to their longevity, and I will tell you about them here.
I have always been impressed with how active my mamère and papère have stayed over the years. For years, they would take long walks together in the afternoon or early evening. Their walks would typically take them to a nearby park or berry bushes, where they would spend some time picking whatever was in season. When they weren’t walking, they were at home tending to their massive gardens and flowerbeds. My grandparents LOVE to garden. I can only hope to have a green thumb like theirs. From pumpkins to grapes, my papère can grow anything. He once even grew a tiny pineapple from seed in his greenhouse! Year after year, they love sowing and watering the seeds, cultivating the crops and sharing their yield with family and friends. I also can’t help but mention that up until a few years ago, my papère would still be getting up onto the roof to help the younger men re-shingle their roof.
Of course it comes as no surprise that my grandparents eat pretty well. Especially during the summer months when they reap the rewards of their hard work in the garden. My mamère makes the most delicious home-cooked meals, using the fresh herbs that she grows herself. My mamère especially has always been health-conscious, and eating mindfully is something that I’ve noticed is a practice in their household. They actually sit and take time to enjoy their meals with one another. And they always finished off their meal with a herbal or green tea. Mamère has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to nutrition. She always encouraged us to use glass instead of plastic, to avoid reheating food in the microwave and to avoid margarine at all costs!
Aside from gardening, my grandparents have many skills and hobbies that they regularly take part in. My papère is a skilled musician, playing everything from the harmonica to the mandolin to the accordion. He also loves woodworking and building things in his shop. He built most of the furniture in my childhood bedroom. My mamère enjoys painting and crafting, and I remember spending hours doing crossword puzzles together. My grandparents never had a television in their house when I was growing up. They would always spend time reading things like National Geographic, playing Scrabble and doodling.
Taking Time for Family
Family has always been an integral part of my grandparents’ life. Both my mamère and papère grew up in large families in small town New Brunswick, my mamère with 6 siblings and my papère with 16! They eventually moved to Ontario and had a relatively big family themselves, with two daughters and two sons only one year separating each. They still remain close with their families back home, and visit often for family reunions and other gatherings. Recently, my mamère’s youngest brother and his wife visited during their crosscountry roadtrip, and my mamère was absolutely thrilled. My grandparents often looked after me while I was growing up, and my mamère really helped raise me. My parents and I lived with them when I was a newborn, and to this day my mom says she doesn’t know how she would’ve done it without them. Mamère and papère always seem happiest at holidays, when they are surrounded by their loved ones.
Spirituality and Belonging
Ever since I’ve known them, my grandparents have been spiritual. They have always attended church and have been heavily involved with their church community. They currently attend a church that is an hour drive from their house, and they are there multiple times a week, attending the service, leading bible study, volunteering their time, or helping out at the centre for Alzheimer’s patients that is attached to their church. When I attend their holiday church service with them, it is immediately evident how involved they are, and how the community has truly embraced them. It really feels like an extended family. When they are not physically at church, they are studying the bible from the comfort of their home. Their belief system is incredible strong and something I admire.
As I mentioned above, my grandparents are always connecting with individuals that are part of their church community. But they also connect with their friends and acquaintances who live in their town. Anytime we go out together, they are bound to run into someone they know. And when they do, they don’t just make small talk. They want to have a real conversation. I attended the wake of my other grandfather’s (on my dad’s side) partner the other day, and my mamère and papère made sure to attend. They didn’t just go through the line and shake hands like everyone else, they stopped and talked to my grandpa for a few minutes, asking him how he is and actually waited for the response. To me, that spoke volumes because in today’s world, it seems as though everyone is too busy to care. I know it meant a lot to my grandpa as well.
Their Influence on My Life
These two have taught me a whole lot about how I want to live my life, and how I hope to age. Through them, I have learned to appreciate the little things in life, like getting outside, growing my own vegetables and herbs, learning to cook, and being gentle and caring. I understand the importance of making time for family, and making an effort to be part of something bigger than myself. Human connection is one of the biggest factors in leading a long, healthy and fulfilling life, and this is something I will never forget thanks to my mamère and papère.
Today’s Reflection: Take the time to enjoy and appreciate the little things in life.