A friend said to me: “We are fortunate to be allowed to work. In work we overcome the two great burdens of life—boredom; loneliness.”
Some things we learn only by experience. Bowing, for instance, at 20 is agony; at 30, painful; at 40, merely unpleasant. By 50, however, bowing has become a way of acknowledging one’s own non-perfection, the genuine abilities of others, and is a survival technique without peer. Bowing, in short, is good for the soul; a great safety-valve for ego.
There comes a time when the victim says: “Raise your hand or voice just one more time, and I’ll kill …” There usually follows a clash of such titanic force the victim is shocked into sudden awareness of “other”. It is commonly thought the victimizer is age, the victim youth. In my experience the reverse is true. Youth is far more likely to summon the great “I am” than those of us who have escaped its thrall.
The Hancocks clan has not exactly been inactive over the past year, what with renovations and additions to our home, and modifications to the cottage on Georgian Bay.
Casey built us a beautiful deck for summer living, as well as building an extended deck for himself, complete with portable hot tub. Because we have always loved wildlife around us we have ours festooned with bird feeders which attract nuthatches, chickadees, cardinals, robins, gold and house finches and blue jays. We’ve also got a small population of wild rabbits, which live along the edge of the golf course next to us, as well as the usual racoons, skunks, pheasants, gray squirrels and groundhogs. This summer we even had a family of rare red squirrels, whose lightning-fast movements keep us amused the whole year round.
Libby and I are getting on in years. She turns 86 in 2013, and I will soon be 80. How the years fly by! Libby is now handicapped, and unable to walk more than a few feet, and since last December I have been living with bladder cancer which, thankfully, after a series of immunotherapy treatments has been brought under control. My doctor tells me he thinks I will be free of it by 2013.
I keep active with letters to the editor, signing petitions, and bugging my municpal, provincial and federal representatives about some of the more idiotic acts of government. To keep my hand in, I have joined both the Liberal and the NDP parties. Who says you can’t participate in more than one? The Libs have some good ideas. So does the NDP. The Conservatives remain the usual collection of red-necked, bigoted idiots who are bent on turning the clock back in this wonderful country of ours. Does that tell you where I stand and what I am active about?
We are unable to travel much any more, but don’t miss it. I had so much of traveling throughout Canada when I was the active editor of an industrial magazine that I feel I have seen as much of this fantastic country as I am ever able to, and I have never had the urge to visit foreign climes. There are a few things I would still like to do, but I have been from the Arctic to both coasts; seen the magnificent rolling grasslands of what is left of our pristine prairies, and had first-hand enjoyment of our greatest cities from coast to coast. During many of my travels I was able to take my family with me, so we have many shared memories of whales off Newfoundland, moose in Banff National Park, and salmon fishing in British Columbia. I am pleased just now to rest in my armchair, and enjoy the travels of my grandchildren.
Coral, Casey’s daughter, is senior sales rep at Ski Canada. Now in her early twenties she is getting around far more than I ever did at her age. Her business has sent her on hotel-rating trips to many of the great ski resorts of our western provinces—Banff, Whistler, even to the top ski vacation spots in the United States.
Casey is doing well as assistant manager of a newly built Shopper’s Drug Mart near our home, so I get to see all my family regularly. I consider myself extremely fortunate that all of my children have become my friends, and that I can communicate with them all without the rancor that is sometimes found in mature families.
Shannon’s two girls—Roya and Emma—are just into their adolescent years, and already becoming interesting young women. Roya is the analytical and athletic one. Emma is the artistic side of the pair. Both are as different as day and night, and never cease to amuse me. Roya is a great reader, and I am able to interest her in some of the flights of fancy I enjoyed in my own adolescence. Emma is a collector, and great with her hands. She has already dabbled in ceramics, knitting, and painting. Right now she is into cooking and bringing treats to every one.
Shannon is happily employed as brand manager for a pharmaceutical sales company, where she is highly thought of. Her husband—Arastou– ran for, and was elected steward of his union at Orion Bus in 2011. Unhappily, the company, which is owned by Chrysler/Mercedes Benz, decided to pull out of Canada, so he is currently winding down the affairs of the employees at his firm. His union buddies thought so highly of him that they took up a collection, and presented him with a cheque for $1000. He is still involved in trying to find other jobs for his members, and and plans to enroll as a heating, cooling, and air conditioning technician this summer, when his stint as union steward will be finished.
I am really pleased about that. I keep urging my children and grandchildren to take up trades and forget about university. Although I myself am a university graduate, the times are very different now. Today there are far too many young university graduates in this country who are unemployable, and who are carrying, moreover, huge loans as mortgage for their education. The trades are a far better bet for successful employment long term, and I should know. I just finished paying a staggering plumbing bill for the installation of three new water-saving toilets to replace those that had given a half-century of service. Today, with the Internet, there is no reason that anyone of average intelligence cannot choose to further their education no matter what their profession. Coral, for instance, was able to pay off her student loans two years after graduation, and is now acquiring a significant nest egg. She is planning to do additional studies on line.
Seaghan is currently working on several television projects in connection with our celebrations around the War of 1812, and has been in touch with an English company looking to do co-productions here in Canada. If they accept him as their Canadian production representative, he will have it made. If you want to see some of his work, look up his website at www.mythicalmoose.com. You’ll get a laugh out of it. Seaghan has traveled all over Canada, to some of the remotest places. You might also like to look at the War of 1812 website—www.1812bicentennial.com. He designed the site, and produced the video on it. He is also into re-enacting, and participated in most of the events outlined on the site. So far he has played the part of a Catholic priest in a film about Ste. Marie Among the Hurons, a British line infantryman of the 1812 period, and other roles. His wife Sandi is the head IT manager for a major Canadian computing firm responsible for the Sears Catalog, and Shoppers Drug Mart daily operations. A big job!
My other grandchildren, Seaghan’s brood, are off and away from home, and have been for some time. They are quite independent and I don’t get to see much of them, but all seem to be prospering. Two are in television, and one is a housewife with small children—my great grandchildren!
So, my dears, the year 2013 looks like a prosperous one for us all (if the Mayan Calendar doesn’t do us all in on 21 December). Libby and I send you our warmest wishes for success in all your ventures.
George & Libby
How the years fly by! Seems only yesterday we were shepherding teenagers, and welcoming new babies. Libby and I are a year older, and things have been relatively quiet for us. Libby had a scare with a pulmonary embolism that hospitalized her for nearly a week but there was no way it was going to keep her down. She went through endless tests, then was discharged to my tender care with an oxygen generator and a new easy chair. She’s doing well and as feisty as ever—still working hard as Dominion Genealogist for the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada.
I got over my bout with bladder cancer, thanks to a doctor’s careful care and several hospital examinations. I amuse myself by writing, shopping, cooking for the two of us and working on a new project—a website—which my son Seaghan helped me set up. It’s still in the formative stage, but if any of you care to look you’ll find it at www.georgesplace.ca. I have just a couple of entries in it at the moment, but I will be adding more in the new year, including my Alaska Travel Diary (which was one of the high points of my industrial life), and my poetry “Closer to the Flame”.
I enjoy hearing from all of you, especially on Facebook. I hear regularly from my granddaughters Coral (Casey’s daughter) and Cristiona (Seaghan’s daughter) Another favorite correspondent is Peter Loy-Hancocks, whose foreign adventures and garden ventures I greatly enjoy. He is also a great photographer and has given me some fine shots of the many places he visits. My friend Harold Morrison (we went to school together in Hamilton, Ontario now 80 years ago), has a website called “Harold Says”. Seaghan is helping him, too, and Harold is a faithful Facebook user.
I have two other people I enjoy hearing from, and never thought I would ever make contact with. One is Ila Lawton, who was the daughter of our next-door neighbors in Scarborough. She is now living in Kingston, and active in the theatre, and promoting women’s issues. The second is Gary Freeman (who once dated my daughter) and is now not only a garrulous Facebook user, but a senior executive for Corus Entertainment in Calgary. Our contact began by accident one day when he answered a comment I had made on a Facebook page. And that’s what keeps life so interesting—hearing from people you thought you had lost track of forever.
Sorry to seem to be loading up this not with what might seem like trivia—but the older you get, the more confined your circumstances, the more you appreciate how valuable social media have become. I not only use them to communicate with my friends, but the world at large, and I actively participate in many political causes through them. I think the social media, taking them seriously, are one of the most important aspects of our new democratic society. Used properly they can prevent our politicians from making asses of themselves (and us), and keep us in regular contact, especially in those things that matter most to us.
As for the rest of my family—briefly—Casey is still with Shoppers, as is his wife Kim, and both are doing well. Coral, their daughter, is still helping people plan winter vacations at Ski Canada.
Seaghan’s wife Sandi has survived a very bad year with throat cancer. She went through some very difficult days with chemotherapy and radiation, but thankfully now seems to be on the mend and is back at work, part time. Seaghan is building websites for customers, and is about to be involved in a co-production on the life of Sir John Franklin. I don’t see much of his children Cristiona, Mike, and Stefan, but all are on Facebook and we touch one-another from time to time.
Shannon, Arastou, Roya and Emma have moved from living with Arastou’s uncle, and are now just as stone’s through away from Libby and I—across the golf course that separates our house from the apartment building where they live. Both the girls are now in high school and right into the thick of things. We see them regularly, and both girls are becoming attractive and intelligent young women. No one is ever going to put them down!
And so, dear friends and relatives, another year draws to its close. Let us pray that 2015 will be a year of peace and prosperity, and that the year will see the cessation of hostilities wherever they occur. Libby and I send you our warmest wishes for success in all your ventures.
George and Libby
It is unacceptable to design and impose new laws through closed-door processes that disenfranchise individuals around the world and shut off debate on important issues that will affect all of our futures.
Open Media on Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations