If you would like to be in regular correspondence with Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, here’s what you do.

Live to be 100.

To mark the occasion of your personal centenary, the Queen will send you a greeting. You’ll get another when you blow out 101 candles the following year. While the frequency doesn’t precisely qualify you as pen pals, you’ll automatically get a card from Buckingham Palace on each of your birthdays as you move into your second century.  Elizabeth also sends out diamond anniversary greetings to couples achieving 60 years of wedded bliss. She doesn’t really weigh in on the bliss part, just the six decades.

Photo from Thingz and Tingz

Now, the Queen doesn’t fire you off a card because she has you penciled into her calendar.  You have to ask. In Canada, you have to fill in forms and submit them to the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. There are a few conditions, however, that have to be met in order to get on the royal mailing list. You must be a citizen of Her Majesty’s Realms; you have to send in a request for that first acknowledgement at least eight weeks before the event; and you have to ask to be put on the list for repeat messages. Canadians used to have to provide proof of birth or marriage but the Queen now just takes Canucks at their word.  She’s a little less sure about Brits as they have to provide proof to the Anniversaries Office in Buckingham Palace. Administering this program takes a fair bit of manpower. Buckingham Palace’s Anniversaries Office works with a dedicated Centenarian Team who keep track of the thousands of hundredth birthday requests for a greeting from the monarch.

Photo by Richard Burlton from Unsplash.

If you have your doubts about achieving the ripe, old age of 100, consider soliciting Her Excellency The Right Honourable Mary May Simons. The Governor General sends birthday greetings to Canadians a decade sooner – on their 90th birthday – as well as to couples whose unions achieve the half century threshold. The Prime Minister’s office sets the bar quite low; they’ll pop a birthday note in the mail starting at age 65. 

The big ticket, however, is the one that comes on House of Windsor stationery.

That card features a photo of the Queen and is signed with a rangy, underscored Elizabeth R. Hitting the century mark, however, isn’t quite the big deal that it was back in 1917 when George V inaugurated this tradition.  I couldn’t find any figures on the number of hundred year-olds there were in Britain in 1917, but If you were born in Britain in 1917 you had a 0.9 percent chance of making it to 100; by 2011, that chance rose to 30 percent. As of July 1, 2020, 11,517 Canadians reached their 100th year and were, theoretically, eligible for these cheery, royal missives. In Canada, 60 percent of Canadians who reach the age of 100 will go on to their 101st birthdays.

Centenarians everywhere are trending upwards.

The sentiment in the card doesn’t seem to have varied much since 1917.  Generally, it reads:  “I am so pleased to know you are celebrating your one-hundredth birthday on ____.  I send my congratulations and best wishes on such a special occasion.”  The card is personalized but the Queen’s signature is done with an autopen. It’s a keepsake but has no value.

Photo by Austin Ban from Unsplash

It’s a great thing to have seen one hundred years unfold, but I never think of these landmark celebrations without remembering a line from Ovid’s Metamorphoses:

“I grabbed a pile of dust, and holding it up, foolishly asked for as many birthdays as the grains of dust, I forgot to ask that they be years of youth. ”

Be a tourist in your own town!

Photo from Westcoast Sightseeing.

“Hey, I can see my house from here!!!”

Courtesy of Harbour Air, janemacdougall.com is giving away a pair of tickets for Harbour Air Vancouver Classic Panorama scenic tour, a value of approx. $300. The flight leaves from Harbour Air’s downtown Vancouver terminal and gives you a bird’s eye view over one of the most beautiful cities in the world. 

Check out Harbour Air’s Youtube channel.

Register for my newsletter and your name automatically goes in the hat for the draw.  And about that draw; winners are generated by a computer-driven, randomized draw. The draw will take place later in September and the tickets are good for one year.

Good luck!

This week’s question for readers:


Responses to last week’s question:


The love affair began fifteen years ago when we adopted our first bunny, a grey fuzzy Lop named Bobbi.  In the following years, Susee, Foxy and Dobby hopped their way into our hearts.  Only a “bunny person” truly appreciates the gentle sweetness paired with energetic mischief that a house rabbit brings into a home.  Sadly, this past December, our last bunny, Dobby, developed a case of intractable stasis.  We had to face the heartbreaking decision to have her put to sleep.  While our carpet no longer sports random strands of hay and our furniture legs no longer suffer fresh chew marks, an unexplainable void remains.  No fuzzy lounger is stretched out on the floor beside me.  No soft, warm tongue licks my hand when I reach out to caress that exquisitely soft coat.  No happy little hopper bounds over to beg treats at the opening of the fridge door. Will we ever get another bunny?  Can I face the inevitability of another “someday goodbye”?  This old heart of mine is still pondering that question.

June Hall

Thunder, “The Wonder Dawg” was like my shadow for 14 years. I was a barber in New Westminster for a number of years and had a box for him in the waiting area with his name on it. One older lady came in every morning with a biscuit for him. (Never said anything to me, just went for Thunder.) I was also a professional musician and he’d wait every night in the van quietly till I was done. After moving to Whistler, my wife watched him track me in the snow to our neighbours’ house where I had just gone. As the years went by his hearing and eyesight began to go. I didn’t notice him follow me out to the car one day and I ran over him. Jane, it was like running over one of my kids. I’ve often thought of another dog but we get so attached to them it’s a hard decision. As my years are sliding by too quickly, I may find another but  the animal will probably outlive me.

Len Lemieux

We acquired Makita, a mixture of Rottie and Shepherd, at four years old, and loved her into her fifteenth year. She slowed down; we’d carry upstairs to our bedroom at night, and walks were shorter.

One night she failed to sleep, instead groaning and quietly whining.

The vet confirmed our worst fear: she was dying, the cancer unbeatable. We were with her as she drifted into a new, pain free world. We cried.

Two years later, five years ago, we brought Rambo home, a rambunctious four month old Husky/Shepherd/Akita cross. And the love of a dog returned to our home.

Dave Bibbs

I have never been without a dog, except for time spent grieving and honoring the dog that went before, the grief is excruciating.  However I believe each one is special in their own right and you will always have room in your heart to love another dog, and experience that companionship and unconditional love.  It IS very hard to lose them but the right dog has always found me and I treasure them all.

Maureen Bellinger

What was your experience of losing a pet? Would you get another one? In a heartbeat. The immeasurable loss is devastating but I choose love over loss. A new dog heals your heart and soul.

J.P. Mah

Harley was a wired hair fox terrier, attracting fans wherever he went with his dapper appearance and persona.  A faithful companion to my husband during years of cancer therapy, he was the perfect dog. Harley’s traumatic death, after two years of perplexing symptoms, shook us to the core. Our grief and longing for his terrier antics still blindside us. Fortunately, our rascally Jack Russell grand dog provides temporary respite.

But if we were younger and faster – a new dog?  Absolutely!

Gwen Ferguson

During the past 20 years we have been privileged to “re-home” three wonderful retrievers. Subby, Luke and Murphy came to us as trained, middle-aged dogs, thanks to the thoughtfulness of their “first families”. Each of these boys had unique personalities, food preferences; all loving, lovable and protective. Going for car trips and walks was always a treat for all concerned, and for all three.

Sadly, we lost all three to different cancers. This past April’s loss of Murphy is still heart wrenching. Why did I not twig to his slowing lethargy and needed medical attention? The diagnosis was fluid build up in the sack surrounding his heart, squeezing his energy and dulling his spirit.

My usual three walks a day are now just once a day, the fun and incentive is just not there without a four legged buddy. Yes, I hope we soon have another dog join us.  Fur on the carpet, the spill attendant under the dining room table, and dog art nose prints on the windows make a house a home.

Bill Gerry

During the past fifty years, we have adopted, at different times,  seven dogs and three cats. Our first dog was diagnosed with cancer and the hardest thing I have ever had to do, was leaving her with the veterinarian to be euthanized.

Saying goodbye to subsequent pets, the veterinarian made a house calls. This was more peaceful and relaxing for all concerned. It does not nor does it get any easier to say goodbye. But in the end, the rewards of having that furry friend outweigh all the grief.

Two years later, we have now adopted our eighth dog. 

Dennis Attfield

14 thoughts on “LONG LIFE?”

  1. My husband kept a running countdown on an app on his phone until he retired in June 2017. After that he starting keeping a countdown until his 100th birthday in February 2058. I hope he makes it! I’ll be 98!

  2. Living to a hundred years old, I think, depends entirely on one’s quality of life. Just to wake up each day only to sit or lay around all day until it’s time to sleep again would hardly seem worth it. It would, I guess, also depend on who you have in your life at that point and the level of support those people around you have to offer. Personally, I wouldn’t want to be a burden to anyone.

  3. Jane: Yes, I would like to live to 100 since there is no proof of anything else.
    As of this date, I have had no disease, illness or accident to 94 and cannot comprehend why others find life difficult. No injections or inoculations at any age and no religion – have loved to ski deep powder snow for real freedom and fun.
    Life is what we make it with no meat or alcohol consumption. Our life is a learning process so learn what is important and enjoy living.

  4. 100? I had never considered it before, but with reasonable mental acuity and physical mobility, why not? My wife says she will still be happy to look after me when she is 70. Our daughters will be 36, 35 and 30. I will see the successes they have made in their lives and the possibility of holding grandchildren in my arms. Yes. And of course, the frosting on the cake, I will get a Royal Birthday Card! I will not waste the 20 years in between, but I will look forward to 100.

  5. I work for a plumbing company. Back in 2017, our company was working at a seniors hospital in Abbotsford B.C. One day myself and two work mates met a fellow who was residing there. He was 106 years old and had to use his fingers to pull up his eyelids. He said to us, ” what ever you do in your life, don’t get as old as me.” He was an interesting fellow, one of the more active people there.

  6. I live by the credo that it is better to plan on living to be 100 and dying tomorrow, than planning on dying tomorrow and living to be 100.

  7. 100 years have finally passed,
    And I’m likely feeling gassed,
    The finish line now in sight,
    I eagerly await my plight,
    So much of life amassed.

    But hold on now not so fast,
    I may be old but dyes not cast,
    I may not always have a clue,
    But there is still so much to do,
    Not sure how long I’ll last.

    My body’s slowly telling me,
    That it would like to be free,
    My mind however still loves to hear,
    Those happy songs that shed a tear,
    Not ready yet to take a knee.

    And so I will soldier on,
    Although my best friends are all gone,
    I can laugh and I can smile,
    So happy now to stay a while,
    And grateful for each dawn.

  8. HI Jane. —-my Mother passed away at 99and 3 months and i would like to try to it to 100 but i know that i will need a lot of good luck;i am at 94 now and as far as the doctor knows i am good condition,my brain is very active and psychically i am fit. I think that to reach it would be a milestone for our family’s as no one has lived that long.we started at 1760 and i am the oldest ,it will be interesting to see what new inventions,new tech ideas will be discovered but i hope no wars nothing but great new discoveries in science ,health and lifesaving practicies..i survived 1939_1945 living in london England during the blitz so we shall see!!!!

  9. This past spring many graduates of our high school Class ’60 started a chat group on Facebook. Everyone bragged that after 60 years they were still strong and groovy just like then. They all said they will live long. When I told them I intend to live to at least 104, it intrigued them. Oh, me too, each one replied. Now they all sign off their message with a code, C’60 104. When one celebrated his 78th birthday last week, I said, “Oops, you have only 26 years to go.” Realizing life is short, I continued, “Live your life to the fullest, bud. Carpe diem.”

  10. I have thought for many years my life would end at the age of eighty as both of my parents succumbed in their eightieth year. But in a few days I will be eighty-one, so I have hope. However my thoughts do turn to dying more often as my health is not so great, but after I am eighty-one, the sky’s the limit!

  11. Yes, I’d like to live to 100 or more, but I sure as heck don’t want to merely exist to that age. If I stop living a life that gives me pleasure and stimulation, then I would hope to make an exit via MAID

  12. I choose not to ponder this question for myself—there are too many “unforeseeables” that could change my answer. But I’m certainly rooting for my bright 97 year old former grade 8 school teacher to make it. Every year he phones me (as well as my husband) to wish us happy birthday on the appropriate days. He probably does the same with others he taught many years ago in Penticton High School. As we wade into our dangerous eighth decade there’s something very reassuring about having your grade eight 8 school teacher phone you to wish you a happy birthday. Everyone needs a buffer between themselves and the great “hearafter”—an elder to validate your history, to remember the house you lived in (in this case across the lane from him and his wife’s), to remember your parents and even your dog. I’ll never feel old as long as I have Mr. Crittenden in my life and the ability to reminisce.

  13. To be able to self-care in good health would be the ideal. Being topside of 90years , still fairly mobile, I suppose I should be thankful ?
    But having been blessed and happily married for 65 yrs,then losing my wife last year.

    I find life is not just about health,and wonderful memories but a yearning for a repeat of the past.

  14. DO I WANT TO LIVE TO 100 AND BEYOND ……… no, thank you very much! And I think I am entitled to that opinion, being 90 years old already, still pretty fit and active locally, although in an assisted living community for seniors in small-town Agassiz in British Columbia. So why should I say No to my centennial? Because it is Quality of Life that matters now more than ever, and we realise we face less of this as we face more and more of endings. I loved hiking and travelling with family and friends And my family and those same friends are getting older too, and now scattered far and wide around the world, so meeting together is not on our agendas – except perhaps via Skype , if I can find some youngster to guide me through the mysterious ramifications of that on my new computer. The years ahead will be lonelier as inevitably I age, so I do not want to linger on to my 100th ; I have enjoyed a good life so far, and just want to go quickly and quietly when my time comes, sooner rather than later.
    So thanks, but no thanks …..

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