A Tale of Two Sisters

Story by Jody Sanderson

Winter 2023/24

Mom and Corinne aren’t really sisters. They’re first cousins, but were raised closely enough together, they might as well have been.

Both were born in the little prairie town east of Stettler called Botha, Alta., in an old farmhouse that belonged to their grandparents.

My mom grew up to be the city kid. Corinne was raised as a rural farm kid. Both got married, both had kids; three for my mom and two for her. I was the oldest, my cousin, Barb, the youngest and we were born two days apart in the same year.

Believe me when I say, the comparisons bestowed on both generations were considerable, equally hilarious and ridiculous. My cousin and I still laugh about them today!

Mom moved all over Canada with her family. Corinne stayed in Botha, dairy farming with her family.

Both got old. Both became widows. Both moved into assisted-living accommodations when the time was appropriate, with their daughters close by for support.

And that’s where any similarity ended.

Getting old is not for the faint of heart. It takes work, compromise, a positive attitude and a healthy sense of humour.

When my mom first moved into assisted living, she called it “jail,” despite it being a location that always reminded me of a cruise ship. Her view was peaceful; she had three meals per day prepared for her; outings and activities planned for every day; and lots of indoor open space. She could get her hair cut whenever she booked it or her toenails clipped and she could pick up her prescriptions or chocolate there. She had help with housekeeping and laundry. And there were her beloved bridge games two or three times a week.

She hated it!

Over the years, she updated her less-than-affectionate nicknames for the place to the “institution” and the “facility” but it eventually became “home” after a six-week stay in a rehab clinic to heal from a fall. She eventually got there; it just took a while!

Corinne also eventually had a fall and didn’t want all the fuss of moving to an assisted-living space. Until she took a tour with my cousin and tried out a piano in the foyer, playing her beloved music, that is. She instantly attracted a crowd and instantly decided she wanted to move in yesterday! And so she did, and loved it from the get go.

We are reaching, or have reached, the point in our own lives where we are required to consider our current or future living arrangements. Do the research. Explore locations, amenities, costs, services, resources. Like anything in life, it’s the attitude we bring to new experiences that makes the difference between success or failure, peace or consternation and how we continue to make the best of what life throws at us.

It’s our choice. Which one are you going to make?