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  • Writer's pictureHelen Row Toews

Prairie Wool

Age is only a number

Sometimes, milestone birthdays can get a person down. I have one approaching in the distance, and who needs it? I choose to be 38 and am sticking to it. Here’s what happened to remind me.

Early last Saturday morning, I pulled up to a red light in a nearby town. Bright, warm sunshine flooded my older SUV and gladdened my heart. ABBA tunes blared, and singing along, I effortlessly slipped back to the 1980s. It was going to be a fine day, and I smiled into the rear-view mirror as a car approached from behind.

At the last moment, the sleek, black sports car swerved into the next lane and purred up beside me. Although I couldn’t see the driver, I soon realized this person was watching for the light to change so they could take me off the line. The car surged forward once, then twice. Its motor revved impressively each time, and I had a small flashback to my misspent youth.

Back then, my nickname was, oddly enough, Wheels. I did a certain amount of racing in those days, and was hard to beat off a starting line. However, all this was long ago. Was I really prepared to charge across a deserted intersection in the middle of Vegreville at 7am in some ABBA-induced attempt to relive old glory days?


After all, who did this nut think he was dealing with?

Thankfully, this inappropriate decision was taken out of my hands as the light quickly changed, and the car shot away with a squeal of tires and the choking smell of burning rubber!

“Holy doodle,” I said, irritably pulling alongside the now slowing vehicle. Twisting my head, I peered through the window. What the heck! A white-haired, wizened old man of about 93 hunkered in the driver’s seat (likely on a crocheted cushion). He gripped the steering wheel with both hands and strained to see over his arthritic knuckles, but by golly, he could drive.

Feeling a rush of admiration for this fellow, I fell back in my seat to consider the whole event. Either my driving expertise has declined sharply, and I should consider throwing in the keys, or this guy has a remarkable skill for his age. (Alternately, his foot may simply have slipped from the brake to the accelerator. Naw, I’m sure it was pure skill).

Here’s the deal – I want to be like him someday! I mean, not exactly like him. Thanks to a close relationship between myself and “Miss Clairol,” I don’t plan on sporting white hair anytime soon, and the whole wizening thing can just pass me right on by. However, it can’t be denied that this man has quick reflexes and an enviable ability.

So, the lesson to be gleaned here is as follows: don’t get bogged down with worry over your age. It doesn’t determine your competence or aptitude in any arena of life. It’s only a number, after all. Choose one that represents you, and hang on.

I like 38.

Helen lives on the family farm near Marshall, Saskatchewan, where she works as an author, columnist, and in education. Find her online at There, you can learn more about her humorous Prairie Wool Books, or newly released fantasy series, Runestaff Chronicles.

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