Hurricane TurtleHead

Remember the other day when I was saying that I’d be lucky if I were able to be an active, involved grandmother at the age of 72?

The other day I was watching The Rick Mercer Report, which is a funny news-ish kind of show here in Canada like Jon Stewart’s show in the States. He was doing a little feature story on Hazel McCallion, also known as “Hurricane Hazel,” who is the mayor of Mississauga.

Mississauga is a very nice, very huge bedroom community just outside of Toronto. Hazel has been the mayor there for a record-setting 31 years.

Thirty-one years, you say? Why, she must be what, seventy?

You’re off by a clear mile. She’s 88. That’s EIGHTY-EIGHT. Still going to work every day.

When the profile started, I expected her to be a little shaky and a little dotty. I figured that people had kept electing her out of sentimentality, or maybe an unwillingness to hurt the feelings of a sweet old lady by not voting for her.

But no. Hazel at 88 is both sharper than I am and in better physical shape. She and Rick Mercer played HOCKEY, for crap’s sake. She was plenty limber enough to dance around the city in a hilarious rock video and seemed able, quite frankly, to kick Rick’s ass if required.

And sassy! Holy cow, the sassy. She clearly had a firm grasp of the city’s social and political challenges and continues to do impressive work handling the city’s growth and attracting business to the area.

I seriously want to BE Hurricane Hazel. Or at least have her provide my grandkids with a suitable grandparent while I languish in an old people’s home.

On a related note, I was thinking last night about the opening chapter in Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, Outliers. He tells the story of a small town in Pennsylvania where the people just never seemed to get sick — rates for all major diseases were about a third of rates for the similar population, and almost all deaths in the town were simply due to old age. Plenty of research into the population revealed that the reason for their general wellness wasn’t their genetics, or the hill where they lived, or what they were eating. It was simply that everyone in the town knew each other — they were all immigrants from the same small area in Italy. They spoke the same language, shared the same values, and everyone looked out for everyone else. Often, three generations of a family would live together and care for each other. It was that sense of community, of having a place to belong, of having a complete social support system, that removed much of the stress and loneliness of everyday life and allowed these people to be happy and healthy much longer than most.

I’m thinking that these days, it’s the blogging community that provides that kind of support — that makes you feel like you’re a part of something, that others out there think and act like you, that people are available to answer your questions or come to your aid if need be.

So since I blog, maybe I’ll get to be Hazel-esque someday, after all.

Which is awesome! I’m going to go right ahead and book that vacation to DisneyWorld for the year 2072!

3 thoughts on “Hurricane TurtleHead

  1. Hazel’s definitely a force to be reckoned with.

    I remember a few years back (before kids) my husband and I went to Whistler on vacation. One day we shared a ride up the gondola with a couple who had to be well up in their 70. We were astounded to see the two of them there with their snowboards! We had a fascinating chit-chat with them as we journeyed up to the top of the mountain. Apparently the woman had only recently taken up snowboarding. She said it took 7 or 8 outings before the woman got the hang of it. The first few tries she kept falling…but she stuck with it and ended up loving it. I was so impressed–I’m not sure I would’ve stuck with it, yet here this woman in her 70’s did.

    Love Malcolm Gladwell’s books!

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