Today, our fitness leader Timea, looks over the motley crew before her, having one thing in common, all are old and very old. You just don’t count if you’re younger than ninety in this place, and being born a male is not much of a help either, since most of the enthusiastic walkers are women. But here I am, one of at least three dozen eager participants mostly walking with a walking-aid.
We are scrutinized by college students volunteering for the program as to ability to walk and perceived stamina, after which they divides into three groups: top - good for a half hour walk, bottom - not very good for any physical activity, and in between the rest.
Before that our leader Timea instills us with the importance of this exercise and its goals. She sees us walking to such destinations as Chilliwack and Whistler!
A hush falls over the participants, walk all the way to Chilliwack? Timea, in a very pleasant, faintly Hungarian accented English tongue, explains how the apparent impossible goal will work. The distance we walk in a day will be recorded by her and when a walker, over time, reaches a total of fifty km, she will announce that he (more likely she) has arrived in Chilliwack. What we are going to do there she keeps secret, neither is it revealed how we are going home from there.
Timi, as she likes to be called makes no secrets of the fact that she originated from Hungary and why should she, if all young women look like her in that country, it is a wonder that the secret never leaked out about it to the rest of the world.
The three groups, under guidance of staff and volunteers take off around the structures of Menno Place, first the top group, then the middle group, and lastly the bottom group, to which I am assigned.
Part ways into the walk I get company of a woman pushing a walker, but boy o boy, what a walker it is: large wheels, wide leather seat, deluxe brake system and a covered basket, and -
the whole thing is able to fold into a parcel-size package. I am impressed.
That walker must have cost at least five times what my Costco special $100 one is worth.
Her ‘mobility aid’ is almost touching mine with the small wheels that make a sound like a train going clickety-clack over every crack and groove in the sidewalk.
When I dare to look at the lady driving the expensive walking-aid she takes my breath away. She is one classy lady.
“What is your name?” she sings.
“Lex” I stutter.
I could've given my nice name Fertile (its my jealous computer which changes my name again) My name is Leffers, but not with an (s) on the end, but a (t.)
“Do you live at Menno Place?” I answer in the affirmative.
“So do I,” she says, “I moved into the Primrose Garden a month ago.”
Wow, the Primrose, the newest addition to Menno Place which features silk cloths on the dining room tables, and crown moldings on the ceilings. A place where the rich live, like doctors and lawyers. Rumors have it that a judge has moved in one of the two bedroom corner units.
Could this classy lady be the wife of that judge perhaps? Could she herself be a judge?
If only I knew her name, but by now I don’t dare to ask. Much less about her marital status. After twice going around the Terrace West and East buildings the lady says a friendly goodbye and walks the sidewalk leading to her residence, the Primrose.
On my way back to Timi, I have time to think about my walking adventure with the classy lady, who might even be a judge. I am totally exhausted and have a coffee at our starting point. However, I get credited by Timi at two km toward my crusade to Chilliwack and am awarded a congratulate smile of her as well.
Has she noticed my venture with the lady from the Primrose, or is it a smile meant for me?
To the residents of Menno Place Timi, Rebekah, and Rylee represent so much more than being a director or leader and I tell you why.
A huge variety of activities is offered at Menno Place, from church-services to putting and lawn bowling, and much more, like communion, prayer groups, bible studies and fellowships, by our chaplains.
Musical Java, arm chair traveling, art teaching, and bus-tours, exercising, walking, bowling, ping pong, knitting, hosting of choirs, bands, foreign students, all by our recreation and entertainment staff.
Our community exists mainly of above retirement age women and men, let's just say old and very old, who live independently or with some assistance, together. Without contact with a younger staff, we can not help but get a feeling that the world exists only of old people.
More than everything else, most value to us is that staff like Timi and Rebekah and John and all others in whatever capacity are around, are with us, together with the health nurses, the cooks and servers, the volunteers, the staff members who make it all possible, even the good-looking mail lady.
They made themselves part of our community and because of them, and their attitude toward us, make us feel not only an old people society but rather a multi-generational one, like we were used to, before we made Menno place our home.
O, I almost forgot – after the next walk my table buddies eagerly asked me about the Primrose Lady.
I can be short about that – she never showed up again.