No regrets looking back on storied life

From our January 2014 issue

By John Seirstad – Nanaimo, B.C.

It is now 90 years since the day of my birth out in the hills north of Secretan, Saskatchewan. I am happy to say that if my entire life could be repeated, each day would be identically duplicated.

Being the lone survivor of a family of seven, reviewing my entire lifetime, I appreciate a strong feeling of gratitude for the fact that hunger, discomfort, severe suffering due to illness, or the absence of sound sleep has never interfered with my longevity.

While on my regular visits to the overcrowded senior care home facilities, with their mentally ill, my sympathy is extended to the ill and appreciation for my favorable life continues.

My life has been eventful. I am a survivor of the Great Depression. During my early days, I travelled ‘from pillar to post’ riding freight trains, which generated numerous memorable experiences.

Working as a farm labourer during summer months and becoming employed in logging camps during the winter months kept me well-fed with a few coins in my pockets at all times.

The grain handling industry took 28 years of my life. It was a great educational experience dealing with hundreds of individual agriculture producers, thus I developed a better understanding of human thought and behavior.

Travel bettered him

The grain handling industry was educational with regard to grain quality, ocean freight and commodity trading on the global market system. My foreign travel interest took me to the U.S., Europe and Australia, and broadened my scope in relation to foreign politics, religion, industrial development and cultural lifestyle.

My recent tour across the Canadian Prairies rejuvenated my thoughts and observations where agriculture expansive progress is highly visible. Firstly, the expansion in individual prairie farm acreage per unit speaks well for the industry. In addition, the biggest and best production equipment is visible on every farm.

Improved railway transportation infrastructure designed for rapid delivery from farm gate to the nearest port is a credit to Canada’s railway transportation system.

The removal of the hundreds of old prairie grain elevators, which were ancient prairie landmarks, is another sign of progress. They served a useful purpose for a century but the old wooden structures, like all other relics outlived their usefulness and had to be dismantled.

Impressive replacements, the high capacity country terminals which handle upward to 100 carloads of grain in a 24-hour period, along with the removal of the Canadian Wheat Board were symbols of prairie progress.
Naturally, in view of my prairie heritage, my thoughts turned to prairie economics and chiefly land price comparisons between 1910 and 2013.

My father, obtained a homestead of 160 acres in 1910 for $10. It cost him 60¢ per acre. An additional quarter section was bought for $2 per acre. He bought several parcels of land throughout his 90 years of life, and interestingly, his burial plot, 8 x 12, was the most expensive piece of ground he ever purchased!

Increased Alzheimer’s knowledge

Added to a lifetime of perfect health, I was blessed with the ability to help the less fortunate who, through reason of cognitive impairment, are unable to help themselves.

It was a four-year pleasure and extreme satisfaction to chair the Nanaimo Alzheimer’s support group meetings. The organization is so essential to the latest primary caregivers who are supporting loved ones on a 24/7 basis.

In addition, I attended many national and international Alzheimer’s conferences which thankfully increased my knowledge and awareness of the terrible illness.

Sadly, Alzheimer’s disease is not receiving the degree of awareness it deserves. In consideration of the fact there are more than 30 million global Alzheimer’s sufferers, 15 million in the United States and one million in Canada is cause for grave concern.

There are areas of concern where the public should be more supportive, those being in the area of elder abuse.

Millions of people are trying everything under the sun to stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, while scammers are working hard to target people who already have dementia.

My appreciation goes out to The Senior Paper for a job well done. In addition, I wish all seniors a long happy retirement!