~ in memory of a lovely neighbour who passed away 2 years ago on February 29th

We survived the first polar vortex of the season – one that reminded us of the quiet power of Mother Nature, and the anti-fragility of humans and fragility of machines. Contending with wind chills plunging well into the -30’s, most of us rode it out by hibernating indoors – looking out the window and opening the door every so often to breathe in the pure Arctic cold air. Many were stranded at home because dead car batteries rendered their vehicles useless – as was my Dad and his van.

Reaching out to get a boost or tow proved to be an exercise in patience and understanding as companies offering such services were inundated with thousands of calls and unable to keep up with the volumes. Situations were prioritized based on whether a customer was stranded on the road which made a lot of sense. After rummaging around his garage, my Dad happened upon a little red battery charger given to him by our late neighbour of over 30 years, Miss Wiggins, a retired school teacher. She couldn’t drive anymore and told him the winters were going to get bad, and that he would find it handy one day. Well, she was right as he certainly did. After a few hours plugged in, it boosted his van.

Many years ago, Miss Wiggins gave me a boost too – she helped me secure my first real job in a bank, introducing me to a local branch manager. It was in her nature to be kind to others, especially helping young people explore their full potential. She mentored many in our neighbourhood, teaching some how to play the piano. During the last six weeks of her life, she asked me over for afternoon tea often. While multiple myeloma deteriorated her body, her mind was sharp. She enjoyed having conversations and wanted to be in the comfort of her own home rather than in a hospice.

While watching the sunset, we spoke of many things – her time spent teaching at a Canadian military base in Germany at the beginning of her career, her travels abroad including her many trips to England and our mutual fondness of London and of Hampton Court, her childhood in Fort Frances, Ontario, stories about each piece of art she collected over the years, her concern about the plight of Syrian refugees, especially how the young children would adapt to our school system, and the books she was reading – specifically And The Mountains Echoed and Peony in Love, the latter intrigued me because of my love of peonies.

This time with Marilyn was the most spiritually moving experience of my life. The lessons she taught many of us are universal and part of what it means to be human – to be kind, to help others, to listen, to give, to share, to encourage, to dream, to push your own limits, to plan, to savour, to show compassion, to be understanding, to lift each other up, to be creative and value creativity in all its forms, to love and to respect each other, and most especially, to enjoy the art of conversation and truly connect with a person.

Who is the little red battery charger in your life? What do they teach you?

When was the last time you gave someone a boost?

It’s never too late – there is always time for it. Share your humanness today.

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