Yesterday in Ottawa, two marvellous events occurred at the same time, making it a monumental day for seniors!
First of all, it was a Wednesday, which meant that all city buses were free for seniors. Every week, this really gets the citizens of golden years out and heading for local malls. Especially at Christmas time.
The second breathtaking circumstance was that it was also the Old Age Pension payment date. You know what that means – every person 65 years or older goes to the bank. We all have direct deposit, but we’re not stupid – we can’t trust that the federal government will pass along our $585.49 unless we stand in a line as long as a football field, to check it out for ourselves.
Being, good, card-carrying seniors, my husband and I put on our winter shoes, our parkas, scarves, toques, and mitts and left the house to wait for the number 40 bus, to go to the mall. The 40 is always either 3 minutes early or eight minutes late. Yesterday, it was -30C (-22F), so of course the bus was eight minutes late, and we were out there early because, you know, it could have come early!
Finally we spotted it coming around the corner and this is when the Senior Winter Olympics, Ottawa style, started.
The first event, for which I received the gold medal for Canada, was Bus Hopping. It is not as easy as it seems. The bus stop was not shovelled out and we had a pile of snow to slog through. The bus pulled up and I had to climb onto a snow bank, take a step forward, and JUMP onto the bus.
I am almost 73 years old and you would have thought my jumping days were past me, but I was like a gazelle. I nailed the landing and earned a few smiles and congratulations from the other passengers. So the Hop, Step, and Jump On the Bus event was a success.
On the 30 minute journey to Shopping Heaven, I spotted a couple of nimble seniors doing the Ice Walking event. This takes place after every freeze, thaw, freeze, and freeze even more weather. The senior approaches an icy patch and decides to go for it! No skates or cleats are used in this event. To do so would mean disqualification!
I saw an old lady actually do a couple of double axels, a flying camel, and she finished with a beautifully executed sit spin. I gave her a 9.6 and she gave me a thumbs up as she boarded the ambulance.
At about the 10 minute mark of the ride, my husband drew my attention to the Two-Seniors Bobsled event, that was taking place near the Science and Technology Centre on St. Laurent Blvd. Two old geezers, sorry, I mean, two gentlemen of a certain age, were sitting on their shopping bags, and flying like bullets down the embankment, only to come to a halt at the museum door. They were way ahead of their nearest competitors, a couple of retired civil servants (you can tell them by their suits).
We arrived at Shopping Heaven, and saw the Mixed-Doubles Slush Jumping event was just getting under way. Freeze. Thaw. Freeze. Thaw. SLUSH. The French word for slush is neige fondant, which paints a picture, doesn’t it?
In this event, husbands and wives dodge piles of drippy, salt-laden slush and try to make it through the mall doors without getting sprayed by the 3,657 buses that race by. It was very exciting, but my husband and I narrowly lost to a couple of spry 68 year olds who I think were taking supplements! I spotted a suspicious package in the wife’s tote bag, but she said it was just her blood pressure medication! Hah!!!
Inside all was festive and the Christmas carols were dancing in my head when we came upon two teams of women from a couple of rival seniors residences, just starting a game of Women’s Cane Hockey in the mall’s centre court. I knew it was hockey, because several of the women smiled at us nicely and I noticed that they didn’t have any teeth.
The women from The Good Buddies beat the The Golden Girls by a score of 3 to 2. There were several penalties, and a game misconduct, when Maude, the captain of the Good Buddies said her grandchildren were cuter than Millie’s from the Golden Girls. But they stopped fighting when I showed them a photo, taken this past summer, of my eight grandkids. They both had to agree that mine were the cutest EVER!
The morning’s events ended with the Biathlon event which includes Cross-Mall Shopping and Mailing a Christmas parcel to Alberta. Only the hardiest athletes are able to enter this event and I have heard that the contestants do their training throughout the year by waiting for the number 114 bus, which never comes, because it inexplicably and with no warning, changed its number to the 40.
Yes, this is my bus and yes, it is eight minutes late again.
I concluded the day with two gold medals.
Please stand while the flag is raised and we sing, Oh Canada!
Thank you for reading and have a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year. – Maureen