ZOOMERS: Letter to a younger me

Column-writer April Lewis reflects on life after the death of a loved one

What a year it is starting out to be.

After three long years, the wait is over with the recent Supreme Court of Canada’s unanimous ruling of the death with dignity lawsuit. The highest court in the land has struck down the laws that criminalize physician assisted dying.

Canada has finally moved out of the dark ages and into the new century. Canadians now have the right to choose a dignified and peaceful death when we are suffering unbearably at the end of life.

This historical event marks a victory for compassion.

This is a subject I am personally passionate about.

CARP’s position is that we have ‘the conversation’ with our family and loved ones and make the final choices that are right for us.

So I have had death on my mind…

Then came the news of the peaceful passing at home of my beloved uncle in England. Although his death was expected, it is still a sad event. He was lucky, as his death was “natural,” as we should all like at the end.

So rather than obsessing about death, these two events have got me thinking about life. What a perfect time to write a letter to my younger self.

I will try to impart some words of wisdom and sage advice to a much younger me… here goes.

Dear April,

Let me save you a lot of time and trouble by sharing with you what I think I have learned over the last half century. Please bear with me and take it to heart as you will thank me later in your dotage.

First and foremost, don’t give others free rent in your head. People love to judge and criticize you for many reasons. Perhaps they are envious or jealous or simply mean-spirited. There is a reason for their behaviour and harsh words. Don’t give them any power.

Easier said than done I know, but trust me on this one… you will save yourself bucketloads of grief and angst.

Be kind to yourself. As much as you mustn’t let others judge you, don’t be unkind to yourself. Give yourself credit for learning how to negotiate this life you have been given. Don’t be self-critical.

Learn to be kind. Sometimes it is challenging but do the best you can. Kill them with kindness, they say.

Think before you speak. Practise tact – as once you have said the words, you can’t take them back.

Eat more bonbons; it sounds far more exotic than the word ‘candy,’ and I am sure there are fewer calories.

Stop obsessing about calories. Eat well and exercise regularly. If you don’t use it, you will lose it.

Same goes for sex.

Laugh more often. Wear bright colours. Travel.

Read more books. Learn to cook. Buy yourself flowers.

Life is too short to drink inferior wine. Make love, not wine.

Be thankful for what you have and don’t gloat.

Show appreciation for your friends who stand by you and love you, warts and all.

Learn to accept the love you are given. It is truly a gift and one which not only benefits the giver but also the receiver. Know you are worthy of being loved.

Don’t bite your nails.

Well April, that’s about it… and remember, stand up straight. It is OK to be tall, as you can look down on insignificant people… oops, that was nasty.

With love, April

April Lewis is the local communications director for CARP, a national group committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Canada.’ She writes monthly.

 

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