Let’s use the good dishes

Living and Dying

A fascinating thing about humans is that we all agree that our final destination is death. No one will contradict this. We just can’t grasp the truth that it may happen to us today. That thought is rather incomprehensible, if not plain ludicrous, for most of us.

I am glad that I get it, even though I don’t really get it. But it does remind me of special occasions, last words, and not putting our life on hold.

Clearly, it is my birthday month and I like reminding myself about these kinds of things. As of today, I have lived 28,117 days. For a Canadian woman the statistical life span is 84.4 years. However, since I reached my  75th birthday, two years ago, my longevity has moved up to 89.4 –  a whopping 32, 631 days.

So, let’s see, for fun, how many days do I have left? (statistically speaking) 4514.

Since I think seasonally, that gives me another 12 years’ worth of seasons. So far, I have had 77 fall, winter, spring and summer seasons. Do I have favourites?

Yes – fall and spring.

The desire for life is strong in most of us, and I desire as many seasons of reasonably healthy living as possible.  Let me be clear, however, no one knows our expiry date. The statistician included. What we all do know is that day will come, so in the meantime, we don’t want to put our lives on hold, even if things aren’t perfect.

What if you considered today and every day to be a special occasion?

Truth is, we woke up so that already makes this day special. And since today is special, how will we treat it? Maybe we can make a special meal and serve it with a candle, music, and a few flowers from the garden. Maybe we call a friend we haven’t talked to in a while, and enquire about them. Perhaps you wear your favourite shirt just because.  You will have hundreds of ideas.

How many of you like me have untouched beautiful journals sitting safely in a drawer? My friend Patricia insists that the only thing to do with a special beautiful journal is USE it. “Write your to do lists; recipes; doodles; anything at all but use it,” she says.

What about being generous with your words?

Not last words as in a proclamation of wisdom. No. No. Rather I’m speaking about my last words to whoever gets to hear them: the coffee barista, the janitor at my grandkid’s school, the Shaw repair person who came back to fix a problem, the cashier or the cleaning people or the bank manager or my spouse or a friend.  If I am lucky, someone will hear my last words, and  I just want them to be kind.

This understanding helps me, at least some of the time, to be aware that it isn’t always best to let the first thing that comes to mind, leave my lips. Words can be used as gifts and words can be used as weapons. We witness both, every single day.

Just like the good dishes rarely used, we often save our best words for a funeral. Why not jump in today and tell those people in your life what you love and admire about them, while you still can, and while they are still around to hear your words.

We all need encouraging words from time to time. Let’s be generous and send out our word gifts to those we love and admire. The great thing about word gifts is that we never run out. We can afford to be generous.

And not putting your life on hold?

When you have things you want to do, have fun doing, including learning something . . . jump right in and do it. You, too are unique in all the world. Use your gifts. Have fun. Make bad music. Do bad art. Be bold and vulnerable at the same time. Contribute to making the lives of others joyful and meaningful. Create wonderful memories.

Give up on saving the best you have to offer, for some imagined particular time.

The joy of living is knowing how precious and tenuous it really is to be part of the whole human experience. And what a fantastic gift we have been given to participate in a plethora of capacities fully. Let’s do what we can do, while we are able.


1:) School is back. Grandkids are engaged. Plans are made.

2:) Oh yes, it is my birthday next week. haha. You must wonder why I make such a fuss over my birthday. It is not to get attention. (ok – that is nice too:-)) The true reason I love my birthday is because I feel so lucky and so grateful to have another one. This is a privilege denied to many. I don’t take it for granted so I love to celebrate the joy of being alive.

3:) We wake up and get another day. How will I spend the next 24 hours? There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It is always what you/I  think is best at that time and in our circumstances. Joan Baez says: “Action is the antidote to despair.” I don’t take that to be only political action, but it could just as easily mean, cleaning off my desk,  sketching a tree, reading a book and so on. And of course, there is this: “I’ve learnt that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.” – Maya Angelou

4:) A maxim from Dr Shoma Morita: “If it’s raining and you have an umbrella use it. Example: we are in another heatwave in Ottawa so I am calling it a day and going to my daughter’s air-conditioned house to sleep now.

5:) Thank you for stopping by and I will see you next week on my birthday. Warmest wishes, Trudy



15 replies
  1. Janice+Falls
    Janice+Falls says:

    I love the reminder to be generous with my words, always of course when they are kind ones. I also love to be reminded not to save the best of anything for some future uncertain date but to wear my favourite sweater now, to eat the chocolate treats before they get stale (though admittedly that rarely happens!), and so on. Happy to celebrate your birthday dear Trudy tho i will be away

    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Thank you dear Janice, my poet friend. We live close and still it takes planning to have a visit. But we do it. Thank you for your good wishes and may it cool off in Ottawa. Gentle hugs, Trudy

  2. Pat
    Pat says:

    Okay Trudy. I love that we have connected, still through cyberspace but connected nonetheless! I love the way you share your life with wisdom, joy, and common sense. I love how many of your experiences and thoughts connect me with you. And I love you are celebrating a birthday this month. Mine is next month and hopefully I will reach a magic 82. And the Crystal and good China will come out from their dusty shelves and I will celebrate….but each day as well. A joy to know you!

    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Oh Pat. You are such a cheerleader and I love and appreciate it. One of these years I hope we will meet on the westcoast. And Zoom is wonderful as a way to enlarge our lives and be in touch across the miles. Best wishes and I hope you have a joyful surprise today.

  3. Georgie Day
    Georgie Day says:

    Hi Trudy,
    Happy pre-birthday wish to you! The concept of “use the good dishes” is a tough one for us oldies. I have my mother-in-law’s dishes set tucked away and then I have “good dishes” as well. They come out when we have family gatherings. But those family members do not want them when I’m done with them.
    They have gold trim and they don’t work in the microwave!
    I have collection of “good” beautiful natural fabric tablecloths collected over time and I do use them. I use them at our cottage to cover the patio table at family dinners. They get blueberry stains, BBQ stains, spilled wine stains – all accepted with a smile and the kids are now used to grammie not getting upset when something is spilled or dropped off a fork. When the table is cleared, what is left are the memories of where people were sitting and how they enjoyed the meal. Thrown in the wash, they are ready for another great gathering. Maybe I’ll take the good dishes out there!

    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Ah! You made my heart and face smile, dear Georgie. Dishes, as you gathered, are a synonym for al kinds of precious things tucked away and never to be seen. I love the tablecloth story. Perfect example. Thanks so much for taking the time to set the scene for us to enjoy. Best wishes, Trudy

  4. Pat Fream
    Pat Fream says:

    I love this Trudy! You truly are a waterfall of love and wisdom. My mom loved the Mother Teresa quote, “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.” This reminds me of you! Bless your beautiful heart.

    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      Oh my dear Pat. What a lovely thing to say to me. I will say a big thank you for your generous heart. I will be in Calgary in October to do some in person programs. Maybe our paths will cross. Warmly, Trudy


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