Ranee, 81 yrs

Aug 20th 2023

"I am a part of a drama group called the Geriactors & Friends, which includes older adults and students from the University of Alberta. Joining this group was the nicest thing that has happened to me since I moved to Canada. I used to be an English speech and drama teacher in Sri Lanka and helped with the drama productions. I’ve been a part of Geriactors & Friends for 8 years. The plays we do are about our own life stories that we’ve weaved together. It keeps me busy, active and happy. The people I’ve met are like family to me.

Most of my family lived to a maximum to their 60s and here I am at 81, holding on. My youngest aunt lived to a ripe old age of 94. I think I made it this far because my aunt’s positive attitude rubbed off on me. I’m hoping to break her record. I’m very conscious of my health. I like to be positive and happy. Living a fun life adds to your health. Three days after I arrived in Canada, I started volunteering with the Strathcona Senior Center. Here, I learned about the Canadian way of cooking and served tables, which was very new to me.

I’m involved in many activities with Sage. I also meet with a group of seniors once a week. We call ourselves the Wonder Women. We pick a topic and give our opinion, and we have so much fun. Some of the women had recently lost their husbands, so they felt like this was a way for them to cope.

I used to be quick to judge others. So, I learned to accept people as they are. The two words I find important are ‘loving’ and ‘forgiving’. They both go a long way. They help ease your heart and mind and free yourself from the burden you're carrying. At a meditation center in India, I was told that I had to forgive someone that has caused me so much pain. It was my husband, who had left us when my son was 11 months old. So, I went back to his office in Sri Lanka to look for him. I hadn’t seen him in 25 years. I saw two people, but I had forgotten what my husband looked like. I asked for his name, and one of them came forward. I reached out my hand and told him that I came to forgive him for what he did. His mouth was open, he was so surprised. I didn't walk out that day, I was floating. Such a big burden out of my heart. The struggles I have overcome in my life have made me what I am - strong. I learned to face them, not run away from them. My husband is someone I don’t want in my life, but I will still pray for him.

When I was about 40, I dreamt that God wanted me to leave this world. That time, my son was only eight years old and all he had was me. So, I pleaded with God to let me live until he was able to stand on his feet. He’s 49 now, very capable of standing on his own feet. Then, about a year ago, I had another dream of my soul leaving my body, going up to the ceiling and then coming back. I told my son about it the next morning, probably as a way of preparing him for my eventual departure. I look forward to death in a way because it's the end of this temporary life and the beginning of the permanent life with God, hopefully in heaven. I'm ready for it because I've lived a very comfortable life, brought up a son with good values, and achieved a lot. I started earning at the age of 16. I was able to take care of my parents. I got my bachelors at 57 and two master’s degrees at 61 and 62 in Linguistics and French. I have been teaching French for about 60 years now. Some of the students I’ve taught are now grandparents, some of them keep in touch with me. I had a class of 3- or 4-year-olds learning French, they couldn’t read or write, but we did a lot of activities – gardening, decorating, coloring, painting, all in French. By 6 years old, they were fluent in French, like it was their mother tongue. It was so much fun and a challenge.

Growing older is not a gift offered to many people. It’s an advantage. Growing older with good health is an added blessing. We need to provide older adults opportunities to become active by introducing them to organizations and senior centres where they could find interesting things to do and meet new friends. To feel like they belong to society. To help revive their hidden talents, such as writing poetry or sewing. To learn a new skill, such as playing a new instrument or learning a new language. It’s never too late to learn. It stimulates the brain and keeps Alzheimer’s away.

I wish to continue to live a fruitful and fun life, make others happy around me and feed them love. Continue to be active and involved in society for as long as I can. Enjoy spirituality, get closer to God. Be of service to the world. My goal is to see that I had made the world a better place than it was when I came into it."