A Valiant Struggle to 100


Agnes Ellert sitting in a chair on the back deck of our house.
Agnes Anne Ellert at her 99th birthday party.

On Saturday, June 7, 2014 at 1:45 PM, Agnes Anne Ellert gave up her struggle just ten hours before her 100th birthday.

Her favourite PSW, Tania, noticed that same morning that her eyes had changed colour, and spent the morning holding her hand. When Aggie took her last breath, she looked at Tania as if to say goodbye with a nod, closed her eyes and left.

I don’t think I ever appreciated what the Personal Service Workers do until I spent so much time with Aggie this past month.

We all told her that if she made it to her 100th birthday, we would have a party to celebrate. On one of her good days, Aggie smiled and said, “I will need a new dress.

One morning Tania came in and encouraged Aggie to stay with us saying, “Don’t go anywhere, Aggie.” Aggie responded weakly, “Where else would I go… I’ll be right here.”

Two weeks ago when we arrived in the morning Aggie said, “God wanted to take me last night, but I told Him NO – I wanted to stay for my 100th birthday party.” She never ceased to amaze us with her humour and love of life. Continue reading “A Valiant Struggle to 100”


Detours Often Unplanned

road sign says detour below a winding snakey arrow.
Some are planned… some are not…


“Are Your Students Better Off?”

While browsing a LinkedIn group for educators, the National Education Association, I came upon a provocative discussion that began with the question I just quoted above.

Herm Allen posted the discussion question to challenge teachers to reflect on the benefits students may have gained in their classrooms this year.

As I read through the short article, Mr. Allen was putting emphasis on the experiential component of a teacher’s classroom.

He linked the reader to another of his coaching articles, Experience Counts, where he spoke of his days as a student.

The thing that resonated with him the most was how a teacher made him feel as a student. That struck a chord with me, because there were a few teachers I had who made me feel worthwhile and inspired great admiration within me.

These were the folks who, quite unknowingly, helped me decide to dedicate thirty-five years of my life to educating students. Continue reading “Detours Often Unplanned”

What’s In a 100th Birthday?

Aggie sitting at table with a lovely corsage, Anne stands beside her.
Aggie’s 98th Birthday – at Sole.

As my Aunt Aggie nears her 100th birthday on June 8th, I have been thinking a lot about birthdays and what they mean to different people. There are those who shun their birthdays as they’d rather not face the annual reminders that they are aging. Others awake bright and cheerful on the mornings of their birthdays. For them it is a special day and they want to enjoy everything the day brings their way.

Our attitude to our own birthdays was likely ingrained during our childhood birthdays. At home we learned how a birthday should be celebrated – or not. Some families make little fuss over birthdays and forgo the gifts and the cake. Others always celebrate on the day or on the closest weekend, complete with dinner, cake, music, and even games.

Aggie sits in an upholstered chair opening gifts.
Aggie loved to open her birthday gifts!

Continue reading “What’s In a 100th Birthday?”

My Favourite Romantic Spot

boulevard on main street with flowers and shrubs.
Floral boulevard on main street in Niagara-on-the-Lake

There are many places my husband and I like to visit, but our all-time favourite is close to home. We book a visit in Niagara-on-the-Lake – Ontario’s Paradise – at least once a year and always on my birthday in August.

During the day, this picturesque town is bustling with shoppers who crowd the sidewalks, boutiques, and galleries. This is the home of artist Tricia Romance. It is always a joy to check out her lovely paintings that hang in her main art gallery there. Such lovely depictions of family life in simpler times and venues. There are other fine galleries of art to peruse there as well.

More floral boulevard beauty on the main street.
More floral boulevard beauty on the main street.

Continue reading “My Favourite Romantic Spot”

My ‘Other’ Woman


Aggie enjoying herself at family party
Aggie telling a story at a family party.

I rose from my bed in a depressed mood this morning. I kicked myself for that because when I looked outside, I beheld a glorious spring morning. It isn’t raining today! Well, that realization didn’t have a long lasting impact on my mood. As we ate our breakfast together, Anne and I discussed the fact that we were both emotionally ‘down’ today. We’re both worried about Anne’s aunt, Agnes Ellert – our Aggie.

Aggie sitting in a chair holding one hand to her forehead.
Aggie is fatigued as she holds her head.

Aggie is just four weeks away from her 100th birthday – June 8th – but we have serious doubts that she’ll make it. For the past several months we have been spending three mornings a week with her at her long term care residence in Kitchener, The Westmount. Aggie suffers from Alzheimer’s and we are now seeing her slip into the final stage of that awful disease. Miraculously, she still knows us when we visit – after we introduce ourselves. This past week we witnessed Aggie deteriorate noticeably. Yesterday morning she sat up with us enjoying a cup of coffee we brought her for about a half hour. Then she asked us to let her go back to bed because she was tired. Continue reading “My ‘Other’ Woman”

An Emotional Celebration

Lexi in long white dress and white veil sitting on steps in front of blue and pink hydrangeas.
Princess Lexi before the flowers.

Sunday, April 27, was a very special day for our granddaughter, Alexis Fulsom. It was the day of her First Holy Communion at St. Agnes Church in Waterloo. The excitement and the emotion moved me to write this poem to mark the moment:



Twas the Wednesday before – the first communion retreat

Nana volunteered to man the kitchen

So the students could make bread.

Four groups trooped through the kitchen

To toil over creation of their own buns

Rolling the flour – Decorating with raisins – what fun! Continue reading “An Emotional Celebration”

Those Zany Waterloo Bobbsey Twins

Anne sitting in a chair in her aunt's living room.
Anne in 1966.

My dear friend, Judy, and I were nicknamed the Bobbsey Twins throughout our school years.

At St. Mary’s High School in Kitchener, which had strict uniform policies and rules, we shared the same locker. At that time, Judy was tall and I was short; Judy had long feet and I had short feet.

The locker was divided in two by a shelf; she had the top half and I had the bottom half. We shared all the same classes so it was easy for us. Continue reading “Those Zany Waterloo Bobbsey Twins”