Aging: Not For the Faint of Heart

Patty Osborne

We don’t often get clear and honest reflections out of hundred-year-old men, which is why Frank White’s new book, That Went By Fast: My First Hundred Years (Harbour), is such a great read. White was one of BC’s first truck loggers and, with his long-suffering wife Kay, went on to run a logging camp, build boats, fix cars and trucks, and raise four kids, sometimes in the bush and always in the red. White goes from being a strong, physically competent man who could tackle anything to a man whose “male appendage” has shrunk out of sight, who has learned the “roll and crawl method” for getting up after a fall and who, at ninety-six, gets behind the wheel of his car (after transferring over from his wheelchair) to find that his leg just isn’t strong enough to depress the accelerator. White has a refreshing “just do it” attitude that has sometimes gotten him into trouble but makes for stories that are both interesting and funny, and the childrearing techniques he and Kay deployed are the antithesis of those of today’s helicopter parents. But my favourite sections are when White reflects with nostalgia, regret and sometimes bewilderment on his personal life, when he describes his late-life romance with Edith Iglauer and when he faces each new indignity that old age brings by pausing briefly and then moving on.

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