* * * Gatherings * * *


Jim Low

web site:

Christmas 2001

15th Annual Message



"You're the Best!"

Best times occur when you savour those precious moments with friends and family. Throughout the year, my happiest time was spent with friends and my adult children.

This past year, I was honoured to be included in events of important people in my life. My friend Sheila spent many years working at a full time job and taking evening courses to obtain her Social Work degree, and she invited me to her graduation. Brain and Kay make regular commutes to and from Sri Lanka, living half time in each country, as they work at managing a mission there. They keep me posted and I usually take them to the airport and pick them up. Another friend, Elaine works at several jobs, including Social Worker at a shelter, secretary for a lawyer, teaching Yoga, along with other activities such as taking a course and involvement with a fitness program at the Y. I don't know how she does it, but she always finds time to share with me and offer support. She's the only person who will tell me off when I need it! (We all need someone like that in our lives). Of course, I continue traditional gatherings at my place where friends and family congregate. These and many other friends not named here involve me in their activities and gatherings, which I enjoy.

Spending time with my children was the best ever and gets better each year. Carrie married Brian Porter on April 21. They have known each other since high school. At the various events prior to the wedding and at the wedding itself, I had the pleasure of seeing many of the friends Carrie grew up with and who often spent time in our home. To me, they are part of my extended family.

Cheryl and her husband Jameel often include me in their activities, and meeting Cheryl for dinner regularly is an event I look forward to. One day, I got a call from Cheryl telling me she has organised a class reunion. What class was that? Since Cheryl was in the first French Immersion class in this area, she was with the same group of students from Kindergarten until they graduated from high school. Thus, "The Class" was K to 13. They developed into a close-knit group and many became good friends. Cheryl asked if I had some pictures. I found some home movies of Cheryl and her friends. Cheryl and Jameel went through my disorganised slides, and found many pictures of her classmates. I borrowed Jameel's camcorder to copy the appropriate movie clips. She honoured me by inviting me to their reunion to give a slide and video presentation. It was a joy to see so many of her friends I knew many years ago. I mentioned to Cheryl "I assume you organised this because it's the 25th anniversary of the start of your French Immersion class." There was a moment of stunned silence. No, that wasn't the reason. She just organised it as a result of the suggestion of others. No one realised it was the 25th anniversary until I mentioned it. Another reason to celebrate came to light (as if Cheryl needs a reason to celebrate!).

During the reunion, I left to meet a friend for dinner. Upon returning home, there was a message from Cheryl on my answering machine. She thanked me for my involvement and said how the presentation was the hit of the reunion. She ended her message with "You're the best!" There is no way to describe how good that made me feel. But Cheryl wasn't quite right, for she's the best!



Westward Ho!

Since my sister Penny moved to Edmonton in 2000, I decided to take my annual camping trip west this year for a visit. On the way, a moose tried to ram my car but, fortunately, he missed. In Edmonton I stayed with Penny and her daughter and son-in-law Erin and Chris. I met my three grand-nieces: Cassidy 2-1/2, Kennedy 1-1/2, and Gelsey who was born only a few weeks before I arrived. They sure seemed to like me, and thought I was a great trampoline. Penny and I spent 10 days sightseeing through the Rockies, visiting her childhood friend Sue and husband Mel in Vancouver, and our cousins Barbara and Reed in Victoria. We lived in Edmonton as children from 1948 until 1951. While there, I looked up my grade 4 teacher, Mr. Jack Powell who I last saw 50 years ago. I remembered him well, as he was a special teacher who had a positive influence on me. We reminisced about old times and learned he remembered the class "as all teachers remember their first class." I didn't ask if that was good or bad!

In October, Penny travelled to Ottawa for Thanksgiving, so I visited her again, where I finally met my grand-nephew Nathan, 4, son of Penny's son George and his wife Alison.



September 11

We were all affected by the terror. We all reacted differently. I was sad and quiet. My first thoughts were for my cousin Heather and my friend Robert in New York. Not wanting to add to the heavy phone traffic to that city, I refrained from calling for two days. I received email from Robert letting me know he was okay. I then called Heather and learned she and her family were safe. But I was saddened to hear that she lost friends and colleagues. Let us pray such horrors never happen again. "Life must go on." But sometimes life must take a pause.


Brian and Carrie

Carrie is enjoying her career as a lawyer at the Royal Bank. Brian is with the Toronto Fire Services. As mentioned earlier, they married in April and finally got time off work to take a honeymoon in Italy and Greece in September. Unfortunately they were scheduled to fly out on September 11 but, surprisingly, they got out only two days later and had a great time.

Cheryl and Jameel bought a house a few kilometres from me and moved in late September. Moving day was also party day (naturally, as Cheryl has always been our social butterfly!). But the "crew" actually got some work done! They have a great home. Cheryl is a social worker for "Mission Possible" as a consultant, evaluating needs of clients with Asperger Syndrome and helping them find employment. Jameel is a consultant with Accenture.

Peter found a new job with Habitat for Humanity. He's now a part time student at Woodsworth College of the University of Toronto. Peter's still renting a room from me, and sometimes I think it's working out too well! I asked him if there's anything I should say about him in this newsletter and he just said "Tell everyone I'm the perfect son." ...ehem [no comment]. His girlfriend,Kate, lives across the street and they are often back-and-forth.

Jerry also has a new job, working with a new Home Depot store and seems to enjoy preparing material for customers. He also does moonlighting renovation work. I'd tell you where he's living now, except he's probably moved again by the time you get this! He was renting a room in Carrie and Brian's home for a while. By "press" time he moved into a nice co-op apartment just a block away from Carrie and Brian and a few blocks from me. Jerry is a very independent person,as he always was, and is often hard to track down. We somehow manage getting together once a month for dinner.

Changing Traditions

We all have our traditions and little rituals of everyday life. Christmas time is the occasion when we reinforce traditions and least likely want to change them. It's also a time to look at past traditions, realise they change, but also reminisce.

We were probably psychic and thinking alike. Eleanor was the first to suggest we change our tradition, by not exchanging Christmas gifts this year, but by donating to a worthy cause instead. Carrie followed up and organised it, and we are now sponsoring a child through the Foster Child Plan: a five year old boy, Kirubagar Rajeswaran in Sri Lanka. It turns out he is the one giving to us, for I am relaxing and savouring this season more, knowing I don't have to rush about, catering to the commercial and material side of life. I feel better looking more towards the spiritual aspect in life.

Chris the Barber gave Jerry his first haircut 21 years ago. Chris gave Peter his first haircut 24 years ago. I started going to Chris for my haircuts when I moved into my present home 27 years ago. No one but Chris was allowed to touch my hair since then. Alas, this little tradition had to end when Chris retired earlier this year. His gentle hand and hair care is missed by many in our community. Chris and I keep in touch, though.

Speaking of retirement: that is my plan for later in the new year. I plan to break Christmas tradition next year by celebrating the season with a tent somewhere in the Australian Outback. I've already set up a schedule of retirement projects taking me to the year 2040...

My activities with computers continues, but cutting back on work with computers, getting ready to have computers work for me on my many retirement projects. I was running a user supported conversational BBS on an Apple II from my basement for many years, but closed it down and moved it to the internet. Somehow, the BBS evolved as a group running from my Macintosh G4 as a server on the internet (newsgroup is "" &emdash;everyone welcome). So now my computer is on and part of the internet 24 hours a day. Hey&emdash;I thought I was supposed to be getting out of this! I also retired as assistant sysop of the local Apple user group BBS at the same time my friend Geoff decided to move on after 15 years as sysop. Geoff and I have known each other since 1958.




Life is much too short. There is so much to learn and do. We must learn to make the best of our lives, and feel that I am doing so. My health remains good and appreciate how fortunate I am. May this be a wonderful Christmas season for you. Please keep me informed about yourself, as I am sincerely interested in all those I know. My friends are the best.


Merry Christmas


may the New Year bring you the best


Jim Low

Writing Index