Saturday, May 25, 2013




Harold 003



It is interesting to me how often we find inspiration in the most unlikely places. Yesterday I was in need of some inspiration and lo and behold it was offered to me on a silver platter. Well, not literally but it  felt very much that way.

I was having lunch with a couple of lady friends in a new restaurant, handily located two doors down from my where I have my Spanish class, at Juan’s Café. We had just ordered and were chatting while we waited for our lunch, when an elderly lady walked in to the restaurant. She didn’t stay, I guess she realized that it was new and just wanted to look around.

As I watched her walk in I experienced the strangest sensation. She didn’t exactly walk with ease, but neither did she use a cane or walker which is quite common here with all the uneven cobblestone streets and sidewalks. She was just relaxed and looking around. I really don’t think either of my companions even noticed her.

Suddenly I was overcome with emotion. I was very, VERY close to tears. I guess it was just the way that this person took for granted her ability to walk unassisted.

For those of you who may not know, I had a very serious accident three years ago. A ladder slid out from under me and I fell 7 meters to a tile covered concrete floor, on top of the ladder. I cracked my skull open and sort of exploded my left leg. Now since that time I have been somewhat in awe of the fact that if I had fallen on my head first instead of my leg, I would very likely be dead or at  least paralyzed.

The fact that I was so incredibly lucky has managed to sustain my positive outlook. After three years and seven operations people often say that they are amazed at how I manage to remain so upbeat, and usually I really do. Three months ago we bought a little ultrasound machine that my doctor recommended to stimulate bone growth, and I had some pretty high hopes that this would be the thing that finally made the difference in my recovery.

Two weeks ago I went to Queretaro to see my doctor and get new ex-rays. We all sat down to look at them with great anticipation. Only to discover that there was not a significant amount of new bone growth and also that there were 3 broken screws in my leg. I have to go back in four weeks for another ex-ray and if there are any more screws broken the doctor will have to go in again and replace them all……

At the time all I really thought was “Oh crap”, here we go again, and dollar signs were rolling around in my head at the thought of yet another surgery. I guess emotionally it took it’s toll though.

I imagine the sudden wave of emotion I experience yesterday was simply a moment of grief over the loss of my mobility and independence. Although I am usually a pretty positive person, I don’t think this was really abnormal, but what surprised me was that it stuck with me. All yesterday afternoon and evening that feeling kept returning to me. I even woke up with it this morning.

Then I decided that I would do some painting and while I was getting all my equipment together I came across some old photos that I had stuck in with my painting stuff. Not just sure why, but there they were.

The pictures were of Harold. Harold lived about a half block from where I worked in North Vancouver. It was a medium care facility for old folks, and actually my dad had lived there for a while too. One day he walked into my cosmetic department and said “Can you make me look like a Samurai?” He was 94 years old, hunched over with a skin condition, like dermatitis or something.

I laughed, and said that I wasn’t sure but I would be happy to try. The picture at the top of the post is the result. After that I saw Harold quite frequently. As it turned out he had always wanted to be an actor but first parents, and then wives and kids had gotten in the way of that dream. Then at 94 he decided that he could still have some fun. He loved to dress up and for every holiday he would go to a costume shop and chose something to wear at the old folks home. Then he came to me and told me what kind of makeup we would be doing that day. The folks at the home loved it, and loved Harold.

I also loved Harold. He was a great inspiration, not only to me, but to everyone he met. He was so happy and alive. He told me wonderful stories of his life and although he didn’t get to do what he really wanted, he made the absolute most out of what he had. It has been over eight years since I have seen Harold, and I suspect that he has gone on to amuse folks in whatever plane of existence comes after life.

Finding those pictures this morning put me back on the right path. It seems that Harold can still inspire me. I am leaving you with some photos of Harold’s great exploits.


Harold 006

Mae West


Harold 009

Irish milk maid


Harold 012



Harold 017

Dance Hall girl?

Harold 018


Thank you Harold


  1. Talk about synchonicity! Harold saw your need and came to your assistance. How cool! I'm so bummed to hear about your leg. When we're going through the trials of life, it is so hard to figure out the why?
    I'll be home the second week of June if I can do anything to be of help.......

  2. It is very cool. Harold got me right back on track! Thank you, but I doubt there is much you could do to help, but I'd love to see you. Maybe we can go to Harry's when you get back.

  3. "...although he didn’t get to do what he really wanted, he made the absolute most out of what he had."

    Wonderful story and pix, Shannon.

    I'm so sorry to hear about your leg. You are an inspiration with your great attitude!


  4. Thanks Libby, I appreciate the support. I lost my attitude a little there, but Harold is still looking out for me!

  5. Shannon it is difficult when your mobility is compromised, I have osteo arthritis in both knees. It was diagnosed after breaking my leg and having an enormous blood clot. I am walking much better these days but the weather in rainy Vancouver has its affect. gardening can be a struggle with the getting up and down, also doing any kind of ladder work etc. All in all it really is best to keep a positive attitude. I say to myself and my hubby if this is the worst I will be fine.
    We do want to spend some months each year in Mexico. So I will have to be careful as I walk about the town with my odd knees! Good luck with your ongoing recovery.

  6. Shelagh I'm very sorry to hear about your osteo arthritis. I know what it is like to be in pain all the time. It does wear you down. Yes, you must be very careful on the cobblestone streets, they can be deadly. I had a small fall a while back and that may be what happened to the screws in my leg.

  7. Aaaugh, that's the pits. But you have the right attitude...we can always learn from the trials of others if we let ourselves move our thoughts off ourselves... There's a lesson here for all of us., thank you. Take care, you can do it!

    1. Thanks Nancy, you are absolutely right. It is wonderful how others can inspire us if we just let them!

  8. You and Harold have started my morning with a smile, a chuckle, and a prayer of thanksgiving. And that is no bad thing.

    1. It is a very good thing Steve. Harold was someone who passed through my life, giving me brief joy. I am so glad that I still have the pictures, he was a very inspiring man.

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  10. You and Harold have made my day. People like that continue to inspire us whether they are here or not. I think Harold will continue giving you joy every time you think of him for the rest of your life. A special person who obviously saw the same qualities in you and shared his life with you.
    I am so sorry to hear about your further problems with your leg. I know we are too far away to help you out with anything physical; but know that we are keeping you in our thoughts. If there is anything you think we could do please let us know.

  11. Thank you so much for your support Brenda, that means a lot. You are right, I think Harold will always be with me. He was very special.
    My best to Roy, I hope he is feeling well.

  12. Hi Shannon. I'm sorry to hear that you have been having such a difficult time with your healing. You're far away but always in my prayers. Thanks for the inspiring story; it lightened my day too. At different points along the way this life can be tough and those special little reminders help keep it all in perspective.

    1. It's so nice to hear from you Gwen! It is easy to lose that perspective and that is why people like Harold are such a gift. They help us maintain that equilibrium.