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Marion Wyllie Celebrates 103

Marion Wyllie’s latest publication, Blossoms on An Aged Tree, was launched at Ginger Press in Owen Sound on her 103rd birthday, October 26, 2009, where several of her friends gathered to celebrate with her. The poems and stories in the book were penned since her 100th birthday, adding to her body of work. This includes several publications as well as My Nine Lives, a memoir based on the first nine decades of her life, and a supplement covering the decade since. Here is her speech requested by Publisher Maryann Thomas.
“First, thank you to all of you for being here, and to Maryann for being my publisher extraordinaire; and for all the people, past and present, who have encouraged and helped me in my writing efforts. My only regret is that I haven’t achieved as much as they seemed to hope for me.
“When Maryann asked me to speak a few words she gave me one word for a topic — longevity. Now, I have two dictionaries but both of them are large, cumbersome volumes to handle. So I looked into my pocket thesaurus; it doesn’t give the meanings, just synonyms
“The only synonym for longevity was survival! I’m a survivor. Hallelujah! If we have lived a life of any length we have survived a number of things — some of us have survived cancer or heart attacks or all of the childhood diseases.
“People often ask me what is my secret. If there is a secret it hasn’t been revealed to me. I put people off by saying – it’s all in the genes. But genes are not the whole answer. Children of the same parents can have very different life spans. One would suppose them to have the same genes. It seems to me the most important thing is not the length of a life but the quality of life. There are so many things to enjoy, so many good causes to espouse, so many interesting people to meet.
“Of course life is uncertain. I look around me where I live and see so many people whose lives have sadly changed with age. If they had once envisioned how they are now, they would have been appalled. It is a constant reminder that I do not know what a stroke or the onset of Alzheimer’s disease might do to me by next year — or by tomorrow. So it behooves me to enjoy small pleasures, to emulate the patience and kindness of our caregivers, to look kindly on all my fellow humans. It’s not that hard to smile, to wave or say good morning, or laugh at someone’s stale joke.
“The more I think of longevity the less I think of it. I mean the length of a life is not as important as the quality of it. It’s what we do with the time allotted to us that matters. I have not studied comparative religions, though it must be a fascinating study, but from the little I know of others, I believe the Christian religion is the one that best meets my spiritual needs. It’s like an anchor. By that I don’t mean to keep me stuck in one place. I can hoist anchor and move on. But like a ship, I don’t leave the anchor behind. It goes with me to steady me for whatever may be coming next.
“As I looked up longevity in the thesaurus, my eye strayed down a line or two. The next word I saw was Longwinded. Thus endeth the sermon”.
Marion Fields Wylllie

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