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84 and 89

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


My dad, John Shadbolt, was born on Nov 8, 1928.  He was born in Hitchen Herts (an hour north of London, England) and is the youngest son of Olive and Horace Shadbolt.  Our family gathered this weekend to celebrate him, and my mom Marie who turns 84 in December. 

There are many stories that could be told about this couple.  My dad came into the world with an asthma condition. He spent a lot of time in an oxygen tent as a child.  He wasn’t allowed to go off to war because of his asthma, and so he stayed behind and hunted to provide food for his family and the families that they billeted from London,  when London was being bombed.  My mom also grew up in Hitchen across the road from my dad.   Her family were farmers and they also took in families during the war.  Both of my parents learned to help their “neighbours” at a young age.  John and Marie immigrated  to Canada in 1958 in hopes of better opportunities for themselves and their future family.  They married in 1960 and bought a house where they still live today.

This weekend  we gathered at their home  to have a dinner  and their “neighbours” came as well.  My dad’s best friend is a man who worked for him 30 years ago.  He is 57 ish now and he visits and  helps my dad all the time.  They love to go out for breakfast.  My mom’s best friend is a co-worker from the newspaper where she works.  She is also mid 50’s and they bake for each other, go out for coffee and chat on the on phone often.  And then there are their actual “neighbours”  who live right beside them.  Cathy Charnock was an young ecotourism student who I taught in Haliburton  in 1997. She and her husband Roger moved in beside my parents about 10 years ago and they have been such a gift to them.  Cathy and Roger have helped my parents through power outages, a broken hip, a triple bypass etc.   They plow the driveway, clean eaves troughs, have my parents over for  dinner and celebrate special events like Canada Day.

There is that old saying that it  takes a village to raise a child.  I think it takes a village to care for people of all ages.  My sister and her boys live in Vancouver and so they visit as often a they can, but they can’t be there for the day to day things that happen.  And I’m 4 hours away.   I can’t tell you how grateful we are to these friends who genuinely love our parents and are happy to help out and hang out when they can.  Having friends and a sense of community contributes to overall well being and good health.  No wonder my parents are so vibrant at 84 and 89. 

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