“Did you ever have to make up your mind?”



by Peter Johnson

John Sebastian once wrote: “Did you ever have to make up your mind? Pick up on one and leave the other one behind. It’s not often easy, and not often kind. Did you ever have to make up your mind?”  

He was referring to dating sisters but it brought to mind a good topic:  What kind of person should I choose to be? Greetings North Gremlins. Welcome to the next instalment of: “What The Heck Is This Going To Be About?”

I had two memorable encounters last week.  The first was during a walk with my Geezer Walking Group.  An elderly woman asked, “Do you mind if I say hello to your dog? Is she friendly?” I said that my dog – Eleanor – would love to meet her. And so, they had a wonderful time getting to know each other. It turns out that the woman had just recently lost her canine companion and she found this interaction both pleasing and difficult. She was close to tears, it was such a profound moment for her. Eleanor continued on her way, leading her Geezer Pack to its next adventure, unaware of what affect she had just had on a kindly, appreciative senior.

My next encounter was less random. I drove up the street of an old friend, hoping he was outside, puttering in his yard. He was surprised to see me and told me that he had been intending to call me to say how much he had enjoyed my articles in the paper. I was a bit surprised – I don’t really imagine that there are people out there who take the time to read my writing – let alone like them! Appreciative is a word that I would use to describe my years of association with this gentleman. Bill…let’s call him Bill, because that is what his mother named him.

Bill and I crossed paths several times during our years in education; at two local public schools and later at a university. When I followed him into retirement, he had yet another job waiting for me; as a supervisor of Canadian students at an American university, training to get their certification to teach in Ontario.

Again, I accepted his offer and worked with 25 talented teaching candidates over the next 5 years. It was a wonderful way to share my experience and expertise while I waited for the woman of my dreams to join me in her retirement.

Sitting in the shade of Bill’s garden, on a lovely May morning, we reminisced about our time together as professionals in education, and what we had been up to, since we opted for the golden years of retirement. Later, after I was warmly greeted by Bill’s wonderful wife, I loaded Eleanor back in the truck and headed for home.  

Since that day, I have been thinking about those two encounters and how I have been affected by them. Appreciation. I am very lucky to have crossed paths with people like Bill throughout my life. I have been truly blessed with wonderful people all around me: my wonderful children, their lovely children, my extended family, my musical friends and the people in this exceptional community. I keep shaking my head and muttering to myself, as old people are wont to do, ‘What did I ever do to deserve this?’  

As my 75th birthday draws nigh, I find that I am more aware of my many blessings. “With age comes wisdom” – Oscar Wilde, 


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