Posted by cschultz on Dec 18, 2009 in Miscellaneous Writing
At 65, Don Brown is enjoying retirement by changing his routine, not slowing down. The Winnipeg native, who had polio as a child, is a recreational golfer who tries to keep every day fresh by staying active, both physically and mentally.
Don, a Victoria-based retiree, began golfing in his late teens and early twenties. Like most people, he played simply for recreation.
“It was just a fun thing to do on Saturday morning with the guys,” says Don.
Over time, Don put away the golf clubs, but still stayed active. While he worked at a multi-purpose fitness club in Calgary in his 40s, Don picked up his clubs again. He went out with some friends and, soon after, found himself immersed in the world of golf club management – a profession that would take him to retirement.
“I’ve been lucky,” he says. “I’ve had the opportunity to play some really nice courses across Canada and into the United States that I might not have been able to if I had not been involved in the business.”
In 1993, Don left the multi-purpose facility for the Highlands Golf Club in Edmonton, where he spearheaded the construction of a new clubhouse. Don and his wife, Carol, eventually moved to Victoria, where he managed the Victoria Golf Club. There, he was part of the 100th anniversary of one of the world’s longest-running international dinner clubs, an experience he remembers fondly. When his contract with the club expired, however, Don chose not to renew.
Don, then 59 years old, wasn’t ready to retire. He took a three-year contract in Prince George, where he facilitated the sale of a golf course that had been destroyed by pine beetles. Before they went, Don and Carol were faced with an important decision: where to retire once the contract in Prince George expires. The couple considered settling down in Carol’s birthplace, Kelowna, where they had friends and family nearby. The decision came to Don and Carol when they were walking along the beach in Victoria.
“We stopped and looked at each other and said, ‘what is it we like doing?’ And this is exactly it. Being outside in January or February walking with a windbreaker on, playing golf, or whatever,” says Don.
Don and Carol have been enjoying an active life as retirees for two years, now. When they returned to Victoria, the couple joined the Gorge Vale Golf Club, which allows them to stay fit and socialize with other golfers.
“We both like to golf, and it’s part of my retirement routine,” says Don. “I wanted to golf two or three times a week, for a number of reasons, partly for exercise and partly because we both like to golf.”
Although golf is part of his routine, Don says that he enjoys mixing it up when he has a chance.
“In the summer, we like to get on the bikes and, in the winter, we like to walk around the Gorge Park,” says Don. “It keeps us active. I also do some volunteer things that I enjoy.”
In the summer, Don volunteers for many of the summer festivals in Victoria, including Jazzfest and the Tall Ships Festival.
“It’s nice to have something other than the daily routine,” he says. “There’s gotta be a carrot out there that gives you; something to look forward to, rather than getting into a rut of a daily routine.”
Don even switches it up on the golf course. Although he and Carol play on a regular basis, Don goes out with a group of men on Saturdays. Each week, they bet on holes, then, any money that’s won goes into a pool. By the end of the year, the group has collected enough money to go on a road trip.
“Mentally, betting helps to keep you sharp, because you have something on the line, you have to make that putt. This way, you have to concentrate and try to motivate yourself to play well.”
To Don, it’s important to stay active in order to keep his body and mind in shape.
“For me, what I think is important, is your health. I had polio when I was young, which is part of the reason why I stay active,” says Don. “The doctors once said, ‘Keep doing stuff, because if you stop, you’ll seize up and you’ll never get it going.’ The other thing that’s important is to keep your mind active. I go on the Internet and use my computer a lot. I try and keep up with it, learn what’s new in technical areas, not necessarily because I need it anymore, but because it’s fun to do.”
Don admits that age has brought on aches and pains that likely wouldn’t affect him if he wasn’t so physically active. His goal, though, is not to give in.
“If I quit golfing or wasn’t cycling, my shoulder and back wouldn’t bother me, but then what? What would I do? It’s important to use your brain and use your body. Those two things make you healthier in old age. Don’t quit.”
By Candice Schultz
DECEMBER 2009 SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER ISLAND
Posted by cschultz on Jun 19, 2009 in Miscellaneous Writing
When Mary Hargreaves Norbury moved from Vancouver to northern India in 1948, she felt as though she was living in a fairytale. Shortly after arriving there, she married an English carpet manufacturer and led a privileged life as a post-Raj Memsahib. When her eldest daughter, Judy, contracted polio at the age of four, the family moved back to Canada, and Mary wrote her memoir. When she sent the manuscript away to potential publishers, they rejected her because the ending to her fairytale was so tragic.
Judy, now 59, lives in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island and is well-known in the community as a singer-songwriter, both solo and as part of the folk duo Norbury & Finch. In 1998, Judy travelled to India for the first time since she left her birthplace almost 50 years earlier. When she returned from her trip, she realized that her account of India was the perfect ending to her mother’s unpublished memoir. She began working on the manuscript for *Come Back, Judy Baba*, a fusion of her story with her mother’s. With the book now in publication, the story is finally complete.
“All the stories in my mother’s manuscript were familiar stories that I grew up hearing,” says Judy. “My mother was a great storyteller and loved to reminisce about the things she’d done and the people she knew.”
Mary now suffers from dementia and resides in a long-term care facility in Vancouver. In February, Judy did a presentation and reading from *Come Back, Judy Baba* at Mary’s residence.
“She was totally focused on the stories and laughed at the funny parts but had no memory of having written them. She did enjoy the attention and the party, though. And it gave me a real feeling of satisfaction and completion to give it to her,” says Judy.
During her first trip to India, Judy saw the places where she played as a child, and visited the home in which she spent her first four years, now dilapidated and run down. The experience in her birthplace made her thankful that she grew up in Canada, with the privileges that people are afforded in North American society.
In *Come Back, Judy Baba*, Judy recounts several challenges that she experienced while travelling in a wheelchair, including doors that displayed the international wheelchair symbol but had no washrooms behind them.
On another occasion, Judy’s daughter carried her onto a train, then left to get their luggage. Almost immediately, the train started moving, and for a few panicked minutes, Judy thought that she had left her daughter and partner behind. She was soon reunited with them, and found out that the pair had pushed through a crowd of people and swung onto the moving train.
“I have always been quite comfortable with my disability,” Judy says. “But being in India as a disabled adult made me accept myself in a new way and be thankful for how I was raised and the privileges of being a Canadian. Disabled folks in Canada have it easy. There is disability everywhere in India; it’s not easy for them, but it’s all part of the varied stream of life.”
Mary was born at her parents’ Vancouver home in 1922. When she was 11, her family moved to England so her father could find work. Mary received a scholarship to attend art school for a year, and during this time, began modelling. When she was 15, she moved back to Vancouver and worked at Woodward’s as a window dresser.
In the 1940s, she appeared in the pages of the *Province* on a regular basis and was considered to be one of the top fashion models of the time.
“We grew up with the scrapbook with the newspaper clippings in it,” says Judy.
In 1948, while working at Suzette’s, a high-end women’s sportswear shop, Mary met Mike Norbury, an English carpet manufacturer. He became a family friend, and they went out on one dinner date the night before he left for India.
Mike wrote to Mary, asking her to join him in India. That summer, she boarded a boat to Bombay. They were married shortly afterwards. Mary gave birth to Judy and Rosamond in India and, when Judy fell ill in 1953, the family travelled back to Canada. In 1963, a third daughter, Amanda was born.
Shortly afterwards, Mary utilized her passion for colour, texture and design by learning to spin and weave.
“My sister, Amanda, was about five and [Mom] realized that all of her kids were going to grow up and she would need something to occupy her time,” says Judy. “That’s when she started taking a spinning and weaving course… She really took to it and became very proficient. She made gorgeous rugs, and knitted beautiful sweaters with wonderful colours.”
The sweaters Mary made were hand-spun, bulky and cozy. Every year, she donated a sweater to the St. Stephen’s United Church raffle.
“They always had pockets and nice, big buttons. They did well in the ski shops. She used a lot of natural dyes,” says Judy.
Judy can still smell the lichen Mary used to dye wool. Right up until the point that Mary began to lose her memory, she attended dye-pots with her friends. Dye-pots were parties at each other’s homes in which they dyed wool together. After Mike passed away in 1995, Mary continued to attend the dye-pots until she broke her hip in 2003 and moved to her current residence. The family knew she wasn’t quite the same because she no longer finished her knitting projects.
At her peak, Mary was an influential member of the community, and taught spinning and weaving out of the home as well as the West Vancouver shop, The Handcraft Shop. She influenced many of her students and her daughters’ friends to pursue careers in art and design. Heather Ross, a local artist and photographer remembers the effect that Mary had on her.
“There was something soothing and satisfying about what she did,” says Heather. “If I hadn’t come across her, I might not have gone into that aspect of design.”
Today, Judy admits to talking about her mother in the past tense because of her dementia, but is glad that Mary has retained her sense of humour. While she doesn’t knit anymore, Mary still puts on her lipstick every morning.
“The best things about her have remained,” says Judy, who has been busy promoting *Come Back, Judy Baba*. Judy is proud to have brought the book to publication during her mother’s lifetime.
“It’s immensely satisfying to me, even though she can’t appreciate it the way she would have 15 years ago. My story goes with her, and that makes it complete.”
Come Back Judy Baba is available at Munro’s and Ivy’s bookstores in Victoria, Mulberry’s Books in Qualicum, the North Vancouver Save-On-Foods, Hagar Books at 41st and West Boulevard in Kerrisdale, and can be ordered from any Chapters outlet.
By Candice Schultz
From Senior Living Vancouver – May 2009