Not Everyday You Turn 90

Today is my mom’s birthday and I didn’t go for a ride, so this will be a rare non-cycling post.

90 seems old, but not as old as it probably sounded when my mother was young. Nobody lived that long back then, which probably had something to do with it. These days, although it’s still older than average, it’s not uncommon. There are even cyclists (sorry, couldn’t stop myself) who still get out there and hammer it at that age. Still, that’s a lot of life. My dear old mum was born during the depression, well before television appeared. They didn’t even have a radio when she was young.

Ruth grew up during the war, but wasn’t affected by it much. There were a couple of guns in Gaspé and soldiers were stationed there, but there was no action. The biggest trouble for a young girl at that time was the sugar ration.

My dad died in 1976 and at nearly 50, my mother went back to school to become a nurse, moving from the only town our family had known for over 200 years to the big city of Toronto. She graduated in 1980 and made sure the rent was paid for her last of 5 kids at home – me.

Mom remarried and travelled the world for years, probably something she never imagined doing in her wildest dreams, growing up in the supreme boonies of Quebec. She even came to Japan when I was living there and became a geisha.

She’s now outlived 2 husbands and still lives on her own. She’s given up her car, but keeps her license for trips back to Quebec. She bakes her bread, knits her stockings and touques and talks to her many friends and family and has received over 150 birthday cards (so far) for her big day.

I’m not a very emotional guy (just ask my wife), but I’m a little sad that I can’t be back home to help Ruth Elaine Miller Patterson Armstrong celebrate. Thank goodness for technology – it’s a lot easier to talk to someone halfway around the world now than it was in 1931!

10 thoughts on “Not Everyday You Turn 90

  1. As a Friend who has had the pleasure of meeting your Mom albeit for only a few hours, it was a delightful time Ginette and I will never forget. She is Funny, full of Life and a genuine spirit. Please wish Ruth on our behalf a most Happy Birthday and if she reads your post, I wish You Ruth a very Happy Birthday!

  2. Hi Gerry, I have read all of your blogs for several years now, but I think this is my favorite. Crazy as that may sound coming from a cycling fanatic that your rare non-cycling blog would be my favorite, but I only hope my mother (age 80 this January) looks as great as your mom in 10 years. Please wish Ruth my best wishes for this great milestone in her life – and let’s hope when my Mom turns her age we can also be celebrating her 100th.

    -Rich

    • Well, you are not only a cycling fanatic (confirmed), you also have a mother…maybe that’s why! And yes, my mom seems to be holding up very well. She’s got plenty of aches and pains, but still does her stair repeats and always seems to be doing something, even during Covid. If only I took after her…

  3. 90 is a wonderful milestone and she definitely doesn’t look her age! Happy birthday to your Mum 🎂

    I grew up in a small village and I remember the buzz when my Mum’s Aunt turned 90. She was a real character in the village at that time and everyone wanted to share. She was so childlike in her excitement. I hope your Mum gets to experience some of that.

    My Great Aunt is now 105 and this was her earlier this week:

    https://www.itv.com/news/utv/2021-02-26/donegal-centenarian-who-survived-spanish-flu-among-oldest-in-ireland-to-receive-vaccine

  4. Happy birthday to your Mom Gerry. That’s impressive and admirable that she went back to retrain at 50. Great photos. Good health mentally and physically is what all of us wish for at that age. My dad is aiming for 95 in May. A voracious reader and thinks nothing of hopping in the car for a multiple hour drive with his friend. Just because he’s always liked to travel. And he can. All the best to your mom.

    • 95 and still driving is pretty amazing…and little scary! I can relate, though. We are far away from losing that autonomy, but I can already imagine how bad it’d suck to not be able to hop in the car and take a drive. At least we’ll be able to ride at 95!

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