March 29, 2018

Ninety-Six Questions

Today marks the 96th birthday of my mother, Edna! Happy Birthday! Born to Russian immigrants, Edna and her four siblings spent the majority of their childhood embracing a simple life in rural Saskatchewan. With only the basic necessities, such as running water and a roof over their heads, it’s difficult to fathom the challenges they must have faced. Nevertheless, my mother fondly recalls those times and reflects on the love that surrounded her.

There might be some wisdom in adopting the “less is more” philosophy towards life—emphasizing healthy living and a stress-free attitude. Edna has undeniably served as my role model. However, let’s not go overboard; I am my own person with a distinctly different upbringing. I was frequently reminded of tougher times and encouraged to appreciate the simpler joys in life. Admittedly, I wasn’t always on board, but I did come to value those lessons. Who am I to argue, though? At 96, whatever Edna is doing seems to be working, and I’m determined to follow suit!

To add a bit of fun to the celebration, I asked several family and friends to prepare a few questions for my mom’s 96th. I was surprised by some of her responses, and, of course, there were even a few oh my gosh moments. It goes to show that, no matter your age, your parents remain your parents—complete with the obligatory eye rolls and all. Special thanks to those who participated (your names abbreviated); my mom really enjoyed the interaction, exclaiming, “You’re making me think too hard!”

1. NP – What advise would you give your 55-year-old self?

EDNA – I’m not good at this…(thinking) what would I ask myself?  Smarten up a bit!

2. NP – How long have you known your closest friend? AND how did you meet? What qualities make him or her special?

EDNA – My friend Jone, she passed away several years ago, we were great neighbours and I admired her empathy.
3. NP – What qualities did your daughter pass on to her boys, good or bad, if there are any?

EDNA- her friendliness

4. FN – How did you get your garden tomatoes so delicious?

EDNA – I love to garden, I give my tomatoes a lot of attention,  covering them with dry seaweed from the beach gives them a natural salty goodness.

5. JS – What’s the best piece of advice you ever got?

EDNA – Not to be afraid of speaking out, to be more vocal

6. JS – What’s the worst thing your daughter ever did growing up?

EDNA – There were a lot of things but I’m not going to discuss that…

7. LC – LOL, Really mom?  “A lot” of things??  like what?

EDNA – Not taking my advice

8. JS – What’s better, being a mom or a grandma and why?

EDNA –  As a grandma,  I’m not held responsible for them and I have the pleasure of loving them and passing them back.

9. JS – How did you know you wanted to marry your husband?

EDNA – It’s a feeling you get automatically.

10. JS – What’s still on your bucket list?

EDNA – To keep living in my own place.

11. JS – What’s your secret to longevity?

EDNA – Being true to yourself and not stressing over things.

12. DB – What’s your fondest childhood memory?

EDNA – Just the way we grew up, we loved making dirt cakes and the simplicity of life.

13. LP – Looking back, what do you feel was a waste of time or energy in life?

EDNA – Spending less time on  “fancy works” like embroidery and crocheting, we spent hours and hours on it and for what?  It was a waste of time.

14. LP – What advice would you give to your teenage self?

EDNA –  Get more education.

15. LP – What modern convenience do you wish you had as a new mother?

EDNA – Honestly, I was so happy with what I had that even hot running water was a big deal, you have to remember where and how I grew up.

16. LP – What is the best trait in a partner/spouse?

EDNA- To be understanding.

17. LP – If you had one do-over in life, what would it be and why?

EDNA – I would have completed my education,  it would have made my life much easier.

18. LP – What makes a person truly happy/content in life?

EDNA – When you know you are accepted by your peers and having done something for others, or that you made someone happy.

19. LP – childhood crush?

EDNA – there was always somebody…I was usually teased, hmmm….there was a boy named Nick…

20. PB – What were you doing during your most joyful times with your daughter?

EDNA – Going on a cruise was a very nice time, or anytime we went out for a meal, those were especially nice times and of course shopping!

21. PB – Is there one big thing you regret not doing in your life?

EDNA – Not having children at a younger age.

22. CM – What Brought you the most joy in your life?

EDNA – When I first saw my daughter, she grabbed me by the finger and that was it.

23. BL – Who is the person that has influenced you the most in your life?

EDNA – My younger brother George, we were quite close.

24. BL – What are you most proud of?

EDNA – My Grandsons

25. RL – In 96 years, what still amazes you, certain tech, Presidents, Prime Ministers, (daughters that write a blog do not count) anything that makes you go Whaaat?!

EDNA- Putting things in the sky,  large aeroplanes and learning about the moon, stars and the universe.   Also, cars driving by themselves?

26. LS – What is one of your fondest memories?

EDNA – Our family reunion in Grand Forks, it was a great turnout, everyone enjoyed themselves.

27. HM – What’s your secret to good health?

EDNA – Food has a lot to do with it, porridge every morning…mind over matter and exercise.

LC – Mom, your porridge was awful… the stuff you sprinkled on top, AllBran, brewers yeast, lecithin, magnesium, wheat germ and some other things I don’t even know the names of…blahh!

28. HYM –  What moment/event had the biggest impact on you during your life?

EDNA – My mother’s death, she died quite young and it was unexpected.

29. KC – What advice would you give a young person today?

EDNA – Be authentic and be respectful

30. SS – What was your favourite memory growing up with your sister Mable?

EDNA – My sister Mable was my playmate and best friend, there were so many things we did together, we were tied at the hip. Hard to say just one favourite memory there were so many.

31. SF – What makes you happiest and content out of all your life experiences?

EDNA – I’m happiest when I can be helpful, whatever the issue or problem.

32. HC – What are you still curious about?

EDNA – I still want to learn,  I enjoy cooking shows and anything that teaches me how to improve myself.

33. HC – What are your pet peeves?

EDNA – people who curse too much

LC – Guess I better clean up my potty mouth…

34. HC – CANADA LINE or Bus?

EDNA – Train gets you there faster, both are comfortable.

35. HC – What three words would you use to describe yourself?

EDNA – Stubborn, independent and loving

36. HC – What is your favourite thing to do with your daughter?


37. HC – If you had one wish for Nicholas and Oliver, what would it be?

EDNA – I wish for them to do well in school, be successful in their careers and to be happy in life…..I guess that’s more than one.

38. ML – What would you tell your daughter about love and relationships, as a woman, not a mother?

EDNA – Love will bring you happiness

39. LC – If you could have dinner with a famous person (past or present) who would that be?

EDNA – I don’t know if I want to have dinner with a famous person, I want to be with someone who is kind.

40. LC – But if you had to choose?

EDNA – Maybe Julia Child or Martha Stewart?

41. LC – Would you rather be rich or poor?

EDNA – If everything is well, being poor doesn’t shame me.

42. LC – If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

EDNA – I would like for everyone to be at the same level, meaning, everyone should have a bed to sleep in and a table to eat at.

43. LC – Do you have a favourite vacation memory?

EDNA – My first cruise, we went standby to Alaska with my husband, sister and brother-in-law, all four of us sharing a cabin! It was so much fun!

44. LC – What’s something no one knows about you?

EDNA –  I don’t think people know how much I enjoy being helpful, I wish I could do more.

45. LC – Do you have a guilty pleasure?

EDNA – Only a few people know that I watch the young and the restless…(laughing)

46. LC – Do you have any secrets that you will take to your grave?


47. LC –  Do you want to tell me?

Edna – OK…

LC – Lol, REALLY?  Uhhh, It’s okay…I don’t think I want to know.

48. LC – Sweet or Savoury?

EDNA – I love both, if I was hungry I would go for savoury

49. LC – Favourite toy growing up?

EDNA – My sister and I shared a life-size baby doll.  A travelling salesman had given this doll to my dad, we played with her a lot.   When we were done playing, we hung her up on the back of the door (laughing)

50. LC – Do you believe in God?

EDNA – ah…yes, I would consider myself more spiritual than to believe in a “god”.

51. LC – If there is a Heaven, who do you hope to see there?

EDNA – My husband and all my family.

52. LC – Do you believe in plastic surgery, botox or fillers?


53. LC – Is there anything you would change about yourself?

EDNA – Oh yes….my whole self

54. LC – What are your memories of WW2?

EDNA – All the horrible news…

55. LC – What was your reaction when the war was over?

EDNA – I was very happy, it was a big day!

56. LC – Any romances you wished you kindled?

EDNA – Yes, I would have worked on that, I was too shy, I have since grown in that department.

57. LC – Who was your first kiss and how old were you?

EDNA – I don’t remember…I couldn’t have been very young, not like people are now, I was very protective, I wasn’t going to give away a kiss.

58. LC – best romantic moment?

EDNA – There were a lot of unwanted presents I returned from various men…one fellow, I dated a long time ago, sent a parcel with clothing and stockings, nothing I would have ever worn, I didn’t want any of it!  I told him,  “stop sending me gifts, if I don’t like it, I don’t like you,” I didn’t want to feel obligated.

59. LC – that’s funny….but what about a romantic or special moment with your husband?

EDNA – When my husband came home from the hospital, he broke down and said “you’re my angel,” I thought that was a very special moment.  I also remember while he and I were “courting,”  he gave me a pretty brooch and a bottle of Chanel 5,  that was very special.

60. LC – Best Birthday?

EDNA – Oh, that would be my 90th birthday with all my friends and family,  it was very special.

61. LC – Best Christmas?

EDNA – First Christmas with my daughter.

62. LC – One food you’re craving right now, with your dietary restrictions?

EDNA – I’ve been sneaking so many things,  I guess it would be strawberries.

63. LC – Best parenting moment? Actually, mom, I’ll intervein on this one, I remember my mom threatening to dump my bowl of porridge on my head,  “if you don’t eat it, I’ll put it on your head” and she did!! lol

64. LC – Do you remember having to write notes to the teachers, excusing me from recess?  You could never spell the word and always had to get the dictionary out…can you spell the word “recess”?

EDNA – laughing…..NO!

65. LC – Do you have a favourite saying or mantra?

EDNA – The earlier you learn it, the better off you are ….and  Waste not want not!

66. LC – Biggest fashion disaster?

EDNA – Well, I recall wearing two different pairs of shoes, they were both the same colour.

67. LC – Any fashion items you wished you had purchased?

EDNA –  I always wanted a pleated plaid skirt, never had one.

68. LC – What would have been your dream job?

EDNA – I always wanted to work in a store, like a grocery store, I definitely would have loved working in a dress shop but I never felt I had enough style for it.

LC – You were an amazing seamstress, you should have worked in a dress shop.

69. LC – You had many jobs over the years, which was your favourite?

EDNA – I really enjoyed working in the hospital,  (CSR) sterilizing surgical tools.

70. LC – What was the strangest/weirdest job you had?

EDNA – during the war my girlfriend and I worked on a farm, (there was a shortage of men at that time)  I was milking cows and chopping wood.  Don’t ask me how long I lasted there…

71. LC – How long did you last?

EDNA – I quit after one month

72. LC – Favourite Actor?


73. LC – Favourite Actress?

EDNA – Katherine Hepburn, Lucille Ball

74. LC – Favourite movie?

EDNA – Gone with the Wind

75. LC – What was the best present/gift your husband gave you?

EDNA – A pink lace kimono, it was lovely, I never had anything like it,  also a Christmas rose brooch, I still have today.

76. LC – Favourite flower?

EDNA – Rose

77. LM – What does it feel like to get older?

EDNA – You never feel your age, I don’t think or see myself as being old

78. LM – What makes you happy now and is it different from what made you happy when you were younger?

EDNA –  I’m content with what I have now, when I was younger there was always something

79. KO – What’s your favourite holiday destination?

EDNA – The Caribbean

80. HP – When was the best time of your life?

EDNA – my best years were after 40, we had a new house, new car, new baby, there was a lot of work and new experiences but those were good times.

81. HP – Do you have a favourite decade?

EDNA – the 80’s were good, a lot of fond memories, Expo 86 was a highlight.

82. DZ – What modern day convenience do you wish you had when you were younger?

EDNA – In the old days we had to heat irons on a woodburning stove,  so an electric iron would have been great!

83. MK- How many different towns or cities have you lived in?

EDNA – Kylemore, Kelowna, Nelson, Vancouver then Richmond and now happily in WhiteRock.

84. MK – Which is your favourite place?

EDNA – Richmond and WhiteRock

85. MK – What was it like growing up with your brother George?

EDNA – George was fun to be with, never a dull moment….always getting me into trouble

86. MK – One word to describe each of your siblings and yourself.

EDNA – Mary; a perfectionist,  Mable; Loyal,  George; Resourceful,  Mike; Sensitive,  Myself; Nurturing

87. MS – Favourite song?

EDNA – Song?  I’m always humming (laughing) an old school song, Old Macdonald…we use to sing Red River Valley in school, that’s an oldie!

88. MS – Favourite food?

EDNA – Tomatoes! we had the best tasting from our garden, I miss them!

89. OP & NP – How did you learn to make pickles?

EDNA – it was a very important food, we grew cucumbers, my mother taught me and we kept improving on every year.  Of course, I wanted to make for my family.

90. OP – can you swim?

EDNA – Very little

91. OP – If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

EDNA – Super strength vision

92. OP – Is there somewhere you would have liked to travel to in your youth?

EDNA – when I was younger, 10 miles seemed like a long ways away, we didn’t dream about travel, it wasn’t a thing.   When I was 19, I left Saskatchewan and moved to BC, that was a big deal.

93. OP – What would you have liked to have known in your youth that you know now?

EDNA – Just about everything, we were so innocent and naive, my parents weren’t educated so learning or having new experiences of any sort would have been good to know.

94. OP – If you were a teenager now, what would you pursue?

EDNA – I would like to do something in the healthcare profession, or perhaps a holistic practice, naturopath or anything to do with health or alternative healing. 

95. NP – What was the worst dressed decade?

EDNA – The 60’s…I didn’t like the short skirts and the sloppy hippies

96. NP – Is there somewhere you would like to travel to that you’ve never been?

EDNA – I would like to go to Africa, travel with missionaries, there you see the worst of what people go through, I would like to learn and help.

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