Carpe diem after two lost years

by Jim Grieve RTOERO CEO

Have you read Ken Dryden’s latest book, The Class: A Memoir of a Place, a Time and Us? It’s a delightful story about his efforts to connect with classmates from his 1960 grade 9 class at Etobicoke Collegiate Institute.

Dryden found and spoke with many of his former classmates. Their stories are so varied, and they make great reading. His classmates were almost all from working-class backgrounds. Their parents had lived their formative years through depression and war. They were born into a postwar world of new homes, new schools, new churches, new cars, new energy and boundless possibilities.

The one common denominator for these 70-plus-year-old former students, just like us: they all lost two years, likely the equivalent of 10 years, of their active and hopefully healthy lives as older adults to the forced confinement of COVID.

Dryden’s great book of stories reminded me of the book Ten Lost Years, 1929–1939: Memories of Canadians Who Survived the Depression, by Barry Broadfoot. First published in 1973 and reissued in 1997, it’s a collection of interviews conducted by the author and described by Time magazine as stories of “human tragedy and moral triumph during the hardest of times.” I recall feeling these stories were about inspiration and uplifting messages of bravery.

In both cases, almost a century apart, with totally unrelated causes, the lost years, especially for older adults, represented significant lost opportunities late in life. For us, the memories of masking, confinement and personal loss during the pandemic years leave us cautious to recapture the energy and excitement that retirement offers. 

We have learned from the pandemic. We can now plan trips, entertain our grandchildren, explore our beautiful world, exercise our minds and bodies, and live the full retiree life we planned. We do all of this realizing, while the virus remains, that we know how to reduce our personal risk.

It is time to recapture those lost years.

Carpe diem!