Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Big 80

And it was big. My birthday party was wonderful. I think the best I’ve ever had. What made it so big? And great? Well, anybody’s 80th birthday is big just because you’re still here. But the chief ingredient that made my 80th birthday party so delightful other than having the people I love the most all together in one space … friends, kids, grandkids, sons-in-laws, co-workers, my own personal heroes…was that it was a complete surprise.

Really. A complete surprise. And I’m not easy to fool. And I don’t get surprised much anymore. Because that’s one thing old age brings. Increased perception. At eighty years one’s perception is more honed and fined than it has ever been, particularly in dealing with other humans; one knows from experience what a particular kind of facial expression might mean, what that body movement is hiding or revealing, what that particular tone of voice is suggesting. One has become more delicately tuned to others. So I’m surprised that I was surprised by a surprise birthday party planned and prepared largely by my family, hosted by Monika and Byron Sharedown, and attended by my best friends and well wishers along with greetings sent by those who couldn’t attend. I think I didn’t catch on just because everybody involved is so separated by geography it was, and is, a wonder to me that it all got together.

And surprise is the spice of life. It’s also the spice of evolution. What is a mutation in nature except a surprise? And we’re all here because of mutations in our pre human ancestors, because of surprises that made us human. I believe in surprises. That’s why I left, and still leave, church dogmas, as all religious dogmas are fixed in time; they are not open to surprises. I believe we evolve by surprises. By the ability to be surprised. To stay open to surprises. To celebrate surprises when they are good surprises and to learn from the bad surprises. I celebrated my birthday party surprise for two whole days and the surprise factor will linger much longer. Thank you, flesh of my flesh, both biological and adopted flesh, for another thing happens when you’re eighty…all those you love become your children. It just happens. Betty Krawczyk


  1. Anonymous9:55 AM

    Happy Birthday Betty!!

    Keep rolling!

    Andy Cheung

  2. Dear Betty,

    I would like to wish you a very happy birthday! Thank you for your comments on my blog

    My intention was to complete the headline "I Have Seen the Future of City Hall and His Name is..." with the name David Eby, but I deliberately left it blank.

    Please trust that I bear no sexist or misogynist leanings - quite the contrary, and I was only paying homage to the first Rolling Stone magazine review of a young Bruce Springsteen breaking into the business.

    As for your candidacy, I look forward to you kicking some youngster butt and wish you the best. Please keep reading and I think you'll find we share many of the same views.

    Best regards,


  3. Happy Birthday Betty!
    I had no idea you are 80, not that I've actually ever met you, but I saw you speak on Sunday at Trout Lake.
    I've heard of you many times over the years, always admired your strong convictions and willingness to make great sacrifices and suffer to bring attention to your causes.
    But it's only in the 7 or 8 months that I've really made an effort to seek out information on you and your writing.
    The issue of prison justice was the furthest topic from my mind until I was faced with the harrowing stories from a loved one being held in various remand centres across BC.
    First Surrey, then probably due to my loud greivences, slowly but surely he was transferred as far away as Prince George.
    I had no idea that this was so common, to quiet the loved ones and supporters, and to attempt to break the inmates' spirits.
    Learning this was disheartening, but upon attending Sunday's rally and hearing that we fortunately (or unfortunately) are not alone, I feel that the burden is not only mine to bear.
    I just wanted to tell you that you have made an inspiring impact on me, and helped renew my energy to keep fighting for human rights, even those humans who are behind bars.
    Thanks so much for being so strong and such an inspiration!

  4. Anonymous8:00 PM

    Hi Betty,

    Glad to hear that you had a wonderful 80th birthday. I think of you with fondness when I'm visiting on Alder and miss your zest for life.