For those who know, or know of, Penticton hockey legend Ivan McLelland, guessing the most memorable moment in his life would be the classic no-brainer.
Surprisingly, except to him, it wasn’t that March day in 1955 in Dusseldorf, Germany when the third-period buzzer sounded and the Penticton Vees won the world hockey championship.
It was actually many years later when he was standing at the bottom of an escalator in a “swanky” Vancouver hotel. He was waiting for his wife, Faye, to join him, following his return from a sales meeting in Toronto.
“That was the most memorable moment in my life and of course it features Faye,” said McLelland, 86. “She was a particularly attractive woman to start with and she comes to the top of the escalator wearing this black pantsuit (which he bought for her 50th birthday), a huge handbag over her shoulder, designer glasses, blonde hair, and a beautiful blouse, she just looked beautiful.”
Standing near him were three young men who couldn’t take their eyes off this woman.
“One of those kids said: ‘Look at this, this lady’s right out of Vogue (magazine).’ They were stricken; standing there with their mouths open. She was old enough to be their mother,” recalled McLelland. “That instance has never left me and if I want a smile or need something that pleases me, it’s not winning a world championship but rather that particular moment.”
In her later years, Faye suffered from dementia and passed away in January 2009 at the age of 76, but not before they had many years of happy times together, including later in life-after retirement.
McLelland’s story is just one of six personal stories of hopefulness and inspiration contained between the covers of Gary Doi’s latest book, Who Knows What.
“All my books have featured true stories of people pursuing their passion and their stories are personal, reflective, but the underlying theme, I think, of all the stories is the idea of what gives a person hope,” said Doi, who has penned four other books. “This latest book continues in that pattern of hopefulness. This book is a little bit different in that its focus is only on people living the last third of their lives, in other words, the retirement years. It really then opened up this issue, what is retirement?”
He described his latest work as part guidebook and part story; that retirement is entering a new era and there is an even greater need now to prepared.
“It’s a lot more complicated than just picking up your garden gloves, fishing rod or golf clubs,” said Doi. “It used to be in my grandfather’s day, retirement was pretty straightforward, it was basically a vacation of sorts but unfortunately that vacation was often short-lived. These days retirement can last 30 years or more.”
As with his other books, the proceeds from Who Knows What will go to a non-profit. This time most of the money will go towards those helping people with dementia. Particularly, this will be Village By the Station seniors care home, where Faye lived out her life.
It was McLelland’s suggestion.
“The book has people aged 59 to 89 and each one of the stories reinforces a particular theme, but mostly it’s people engaging in their lives and pursuing passions and interests. Even though they are running up against obstacles and roadblocks, they’re resilient enough to find a path forward,” said Doi. “I think that’s a common thread through all these stories in the book.”
Doi and McLelland visited Village by the Station a few weeks ago to do a presentation of the book, which also features a segment by Jean Kearney, who is the social/recreation program co-ordinator at the centre.
The title of her chapter is “Create Moments of Joy,” which is how she describes her work each day at Village.
Doi, the former superintendent of School District 67, retired in 2009.
“Learning has been the underpinning in my career and it continues in retirement,” he said. “My journey of writing books engaging people and sharing stories has been very rewarding, to say the least.
“I don’t have another book planned and I’m not sure I will but I kind of have a hook (Who Knows) in terms of title but I don’t know if I’m going there.”
Who Knows What is available at the Dragon’s Den, Coles Books and GardenWorks.