Transcript: Liam Dwyer: Telling Seniors' Stories | May 14, 2019

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and purple tie.

A caption on screen reads "Thelling seniors' stories. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says HOW OLD IS OLD?
CERTAINLY, 96 COUNTS.
BUT THOSE AMONG US WHO ACHIEVE
SUCH IMPRESSIVE NUMBERS, DON'T
ALWAYS FEEL THAT THEIR YEARS
EARN THEM THE KIND OF ATTENTION
THEY DESERVE.
A LIVELY GROUP OF SENIORS AT
BRACEBRIDGE'S CASTLE PEAK
RETIREMENT RESIDENCE SET OUT TO
CHANGE THAT.
LIAM DWYER IS CO-EDITOR... OR
CO-COMPILER, AS HE LIKES TO
SAY... OF A COLLECTION OF THEIR
STORIES.
IT'S CALLED, "AT YOUR AGE?"
AND HE JOINS US NOW FOR MORE.

Liam is in his nineties, clean-shaven, with side-parted white hair. He's wearing a black suit and a yellow shirt.
A picture of his book appears briefly on screen. The cover features a picture of a pink and purple sunset behind a lake.

Steve continues I LIKE THE QUESTION MARK AT THE END THERE.

Liam says YEAH.

Steve says AT YOUR AGE?
AS IN PEOPLE ALWAYS ASK YOU, AT
YOUR AGE YOU'RE DOING THIS?

Liam says YEAH.
THEY SAY YOU'RE WRITING A BOOK
OF SHORT STORIES AND POEMS, AT
YOUR AGE?

Steve says EXACTLY.
NOW WHERE DID THE IDEA FOR THIS
BOOK COME FROM?

The caption changes to "Liam Dwyer. Co-Editor, 'At your age?'"
Then, it changes again to "Pen to paper."

Liam says WELL, WE HAVE A BEAUTIFUL
DECK OUT AT THE BACK OF THE
RESIDENCE, AND WE'RE SITTING OUT
THERE, AND WE THOUGHT... WE HAD
GIVEN 500 dollars TO THE FIRE OUT IN
THE WEST, AND WE HAD GIVEN 500 dollars
OUT TO THE HOSPITAL, COLLECTED
FROM BINGO AND OTHER EVENTS.
AND SOMEBODY SAID LET'S MAKE A
COOKBOOK, AND WE'LL SELL A
COOKBOOK TO OUR FRIENDS AND
RELATIVES AND MAKE SOME MORE
MONEY TO GIVE TO CHARITY.
AND SOMEBODY SAID A COOKBOOK?
THE KINDLE AND THE iPAD AND WHAT
HAVE YOU.
COOKBOOKS ARE REDUNDANT.
THEY ARE JUST NOT THERE ANYMORE.
SO WE ABANDONED THAT IDEA
IMMEDIATELY.
BUT THEY WERE SITTING OUT ON THE
DECK AS A GROUP WITHOUT OUR
FAMILY THERE.
SO WE TALK DIFFERENTLY, YOU
KNOW.
WE TELL MORE OF THE TRUTH
THAN...
[Laughter]
AND WE... THESE STORIES, THEY
WERE SO POIGNANT, YOU KNOW, AND
I THOUGHT, DAMN IT ALL,
SHOULD... THEY ARE GOING TO BE
LOST WHEN WE GO.
WELL LET'S TRY AND GET THEM DOWN
AND WE'LL MAKE A BOOK FOR OUR
GROUP HERE.
SO WE STARTED TO COLLECT
STORIES, AND AT THE FIRST THE
PEOPLE WERE RELUCTANT.
YOU KNOW, I DON'T WANT TO DO
THAT.
I DON'T WANT TO TELL YOU THAT
STORY.
AND SO GRADUALLY WE GOT ONE,
TWO, THREE, FOUR, SOME PEOPLE
CAME WITH POEMS.
THE FIRST STORY IN THE BOOK IS
ONE EGG.
THIS WAS A STORY OF A
12-YEAR-OLD GIRL IN HOLLAND
DURING THE WAR.
THEY WERE THE GERMAN ARMY WERE
STARVING THEM TO DEATH, AND I
SAID TO MARIE, MARIE BREWER WAS
HER NAME, SHE HAD THAT BEAUTIFUL
DUTCH ACCENT, YOU KNOW, THAT
SOFT ACCENT, AND I SAID, MARIE,
YOU MUST HAVE A STORY, YOU KNOW.
YOU WERE THERE.
OH, LIAM, NO STORY.
TOO BITTER.
TOO BITTER.
I CAN'T THINK OF IT.

Steve says HMM.

Liam says I DON'T TELL ANYBODY
ANYTHING.
SO GRADUALLY AT SIX TRIES WE GOT
THE STORY OUT OF HER, AND IT'S
THE FIRST STORY IN THE BOOK.

Steve says FIRST STORY IN THE BOOK.
WE SHOULD POINT OUT THAT
OBVIOUSLY THAT CHESTFUL OF
MEDALS INDICATES THAT YOU SERVED
DURING WORLD WAR II.
YOU WERE IN THE ROYAL CANADIAN
NAVY.
YOUR JOB WAS TO DEFEND THIS
COUNTRY, SO THANK YOU FOR YOUR
SERVICE.
LET'S CONTINUE OUR STORY HERE
ABOUT THIS BOOK.

Liam says SURE.

Steve says YOU'RE 96.

Liam says YEAH.

Steve says BUT YOU'RE NOT THE
OLDEST CONTRIBUTOR TO THIS BOOK,
I GATHER?

Liam says OH, NO.
WE HAD A WOMAN, HER NAME IS
ANNIE... MINI BOYCE.
SHE LIVED IN VAN GAUNET.
SHE WAS 104.

Steve says ONLY 104?

Liam says ONLY 104.
WALKED ALL OVER THE PLACE.
I ASKED HER FOR HER STORY, AND
SHE SAID, NO, NO, I JUST LIVED A
PLAIN LIFE.
I SAID MINNIE, I SAID YOU WERE
BORN BEFORE WORLD WAR I.
SHE SAID: I DIDN'T START IT!
ANYWAY, WE GOT THE STORY OUT OF
HER, AND SHE JUST HAD A PLAIN
LIFE.
SHE SAID I GREW UP IN GUELPH.
MY FATHER HAD A TEAM OF HORSES
HE USED TO DO ALL THE WORK
HAULING STUFF AROUND.
I GOT MARRIED.
I HAD CHILDREN.
I PLAYED GOLF AND I GOT OLD AND
I'M HERE IN THE RETIREMENT HOME.
JUST A PLAIN LIFE.
I SAID THAT'S NOT A PLAIN LIFE.

Steve says I'M WITH YOU.
I AGREE WITH YOU.
THERE'S NO SUCH THING.
SHE HAD AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE.

Liam says YEAH, AND EVERYBODY LOVED
HER, YOU KNOW.
SHE WAS FRIENDLY.
SHE DIDN'T GET CROTCHETY AT ALL.
SHE JUST WAS A NICE KIND WOMAN.

Steve says THAT'S SWEET.
I'M TRYING TO IMAGINE HOW
DIFFERENT YOUR EARLY YEARS MUST
HAVE BEEN COMPARED TO THE LIVES
OF, SAY, YOUNG PEOPLE GROWING UP
IN CANADA TODAY.

Liam says YEAH.

Steve says I MEAN, YOU GUYS...
YOUR GENERATION SHIPPED OFF TO
WAR, PUT A UNIFORM ON.
SOME PEOPLE WENT OVERSEAS AND
DIDN'T COME BACK.
AND YOU KNOW, THE BIGGEST
PROBLEM A LOT OF THIS
GENERATION'S YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE
IS, YOU KNOW, IS IT GOING TO
BE XBOX OR SEGA OR WII THAT
WE'RE GOING TO PLAY TONIGHT.
DO YOU EVER THINK ABOUT THE
DIFFERENCE?

Liam says I DO, BUT YOU KNOW SOMETHING,
I DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT.
IT'S THEIR WORLD.
I DON'T KNOW THAT THEY'LL BE
MARCHING DOWN THE STREET
SHOOTING AT EACH OTHER, BUT
THERE'S GOING TO BE... THE WORLD
IS CHANGING SO FAST.
THE COMPUTER... YOU KNOW, SOME
GEEKS OUT IN SILICON VALLEY IS
RUNNING THE WORLD, AND THEY...
IF THEIR MORALS AND THEIR LIFE
IS DECENT, WE'LL HAVE A DECENT
LIFE.
IT'S DIFFICULT TO IMAGINE...
WE'RE TRYING TO... I CAN'T PLACE
THESE PEOPLE'S LIVES ON MY LIFE
BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, YOU CAN'T DO THAT.

Steve says WELL, I'M GOING TO
PUSH A BIT ON THAT ONE,
MR. DWYER.

Liam says SURE.

Steve says BECAUSE I WONDER IF
YOU EVER HAVE A MOMENT WHERE,
LET'S SAY YOU'RE ON A BUS AND
SOME KID SEES YOU COMING ON AND
DOESN'T GIVE UP HIS OR HER SEAT
TO OFFER YOU, AS THEY SHOULD,
AND DOES IT EVER CROSS YOUR MIND
TO THINK, YOU KNOW, YOUNG
WHIPPER SNAPPER, IF IT WASN'T
FOR WHAT MY GENERATION DID 75
YEARS AGO, YOU KNOW, YOU'D BE
SPEAKING GERMAN TODAY.
DO YOU EVER HAVE THOSE MOMENTS?

The caption changes to "tvo.org/theagenda; agendaconnect@tvo.org."

Liam says IT'S NOT WHAT I THINK.
IT'S WHAT HE THINKS.
HE SEES ME AS JUST ANOTHER
PERSON.
HE DOESN'T KNOW MY LIFE.
HE DOESN'T KNOW THE GREAT
DEPRESSION.
HE DOESN'T KNOW WORLD WAR II.
HE DOESN'T KNOW THE AGONY OF NO
FOOD ON THE TABLE.
THEY DON'T THINK OF THAT.
BECAUSE IT'S THEIR WORLD.
YOU KNOW, I CAN'T... YOU CAN'T
IMPINGE OUR LIFE ON THEIR LIFE.

Steve says I UNDERSTAND, BUT
YOU'VE WRITTEN ON THE BACK OF
THAT BOOK THE TENDENCY OF
SOCIETY IS TO WRITE US OFF.

Liam says YEAH.

Steve says HOW SO?
HOW DO YOU FEEL THAT?

The caption changes to "Pushed to the margins."

Liam says YOU KNOW, I DON'T KNOW IF
THERE'S... SOME STATISTICS HAVE
COME OUT LATELY ABOUT THE
POPULATION OF CANADA IS 40 percent OF
US ARE GOING TO BE OVER 65 IN...

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Steve says IN THE NEXT DECADE I
THINK, YEAH.
THE YEAR 2036, A QUARTER OF
CANADIANS WILL BE OVER 65.

Liam says YEAH.
THEY ARE THINKING 1965, BUT THE
PEOPLE THAT ARE COMING UP TODAY,
THEY ARE GOING TO BE WORKING
UNTIL THEY ARE 70, 75 THEN
PROBABLY.
AND THEY ARE GOING TO LIVE TO 115.

Steve says HMM.

Liam says AND SO...

Steve says SO DON'T BE SO QUICK
TO DISCARD US.

Liam says AND DISCARDING US IS A VERY
STRONG WORD, BUT IT'S SAD THAT I
SEE SO MANY WONDERFUL PEOPLE IN
THE PLACE I LIVE WHO HAVE BEEN
THROUGH SO MUCH.
IT'S AMAZING HOW THEY HAVE LIVED
THROUGH ALL THIS, PEOPLE WHOSE
CHILDREN HAVE COMMITTED SUICIDE
AND I SAID TO ONE WOMAN ONE DAY,
SHE SAID I'VE GOT A VERY BAD
COUGH, LIAM.
I SAID WHY DON'T YOU GO BACK TO
THE ROOM AND TAKE A BELT OF
BRANDY.
AND SHE SAID, NO, LIAM, MY
MOTHER AND FATHER WERE
ALCOHOLICS.
YOU KNOW?

Steve says SO THAT'S NOT AN
OPTION FOR HER.

Liam says NO.
YOU KNOW, AND THEY TELL THEIR
STORIES OF BEING WITHOUT FOOD.
DISAPPEARING AND NEVER COMING
BACK, GOING OUT WEST AND NEVER
COMING BACK.
AND TO PUT US ON A SHELF, THEY
SHOULDN'T DO THAT.

Steve says YOU FEEL THAT SENIORS
HAVE TALENTS THAT ARE NOT BEING
APPRECIATED, I GUESS.

Liam says YEAH, THEY... WE ARE... WE
SPENT A LIFE OF CHARITY, YOU
KNOW.
BINGOS AND THINGS LIKE THAT,
WE'RE GIVING TO CHARITY ALL OUR
LIFE, AND WE CONTINUE TO DO
THAT, AND THAT'S WHAT THIS BOOK
IS ALL ABOUT, YOU KNOW.

Steve says NOW IF I WERE TO ASK
YOU FOR SOME IDEAS ON HOW PEOPLE
WHO LIVE IN THIS PROVINCE CAN
MAKE PEOPLE OF YOUR GENERATION
FEEL MORE APPRECIATED, WHAT
IDEAS WOULD YOU SUGGEST?

The caption changes to "Feeling needed."

Liam says I WOULD SAY THAT THE
COMMUNITY HAS TO BECOME MORE
INVOLVED
INVOLVED.
I THINK BY... AT OUR PLACE, THE
LITTLE... WHAT DO YOU CALL
THE... THE BROWNIES, THEY CAME
AT VALENTINE'S DAY AND BROUGHT
EVERYBODY A HEART WITH THEIR
NAME ON IT, AND THIS IS
HAPPENING, BUT IT'S A SLOW
PROCESS.
WHAT TO DO, WHAT DO WE NEED,
WHAT WILL EXCITE US, YOU KNOW?
PEOPLE ARE LEARNING, BUT THEY
ARE LEARNING.
THEY ARE REACHING OUT TO US.

Steve says SEE, I KNOW IT'S A
CASE THAT A LOT OF WORLD WAR II
VETERANS HAVE BEEN INVITED TO
COME TO SCHOOLS AND TO TELL
THEIR STORIES TO THIS
GENERATION.

Liam says YEAH.

Steve says IS THAT SOMETHING YOU EVER DID?

Liam says YEAH, I DID ONE ONE TIME.

Steve says HOW DID IT GO?

Liam says IN HUNTSVILLE.
IT WAS A GRADE 6, SO PRETTY HARD
TO... WELL, WHEN I SAW THEM, YOU
KNOW, I DIDN'T REALIZE WHAT
GRADE 6 WAS.
I COULDN'T TELL THE STORY OF THE
ESQUIMALT BECAUSE THEY WOULDN'T
UNDERSTAND IT.
SO I HAD MY MEDALS AND I SHOWED
THEM AROUND, AND SOME OF THE
KIDS BROUGHT THEIR GRANDFATHER'S
MEDALS AND THE FIRST QUESTION
THAT WAS ASKED WAS WHERE WERE
YOU SHOT.
AND I SAID I WAS NEVER SHOT.
WELL, HOW MANY PEOPLE DID YOU
KILL?
I SAID I DIDN'T KILL ANYBODY.
I DON'T THINK I KILLED ANYBODY,
ANYWAY.
AND I ASKED THE TEACHER, I SAID
IT'S STRANGE THESE KIDS ARE
ASKING ME THESE QUESTIONS.
THEY SAY THEY SEE SO MANY
MURDERS...

Steve says I WAS GOING TO SAY
IT'S A VIDEO GAME GENERATION.
THAT'S WHAT THEY DO.
THEY SHOOT PEOPLE IN VIDEO GAMES
ALL THE TIME.

Liam says AND I DON'T THINK I WENT OVER
TOO WELL.

Steve says SOUNDS LIKE YOU HAD A
BIT OF A CONNECTION, THOUGH,
WITH SOMEBODY, WITH THE
GRANDFATHER'S MEDALS.

Liam says OH, YEAH, THE LITTLE GIRL
THERE, SHE BROUGHT HER
GRANDFATHER'S MEDALS, AND SHE
WAS SO PLEASED WITH IT.

Steve says I WANT TO GET BACK TO
THE BOOK FOR A SECOND HERE, AND
I WANT TO ASK YOU: WHAT DO YOU
THINK... WHAT DO YOU THINK OF
THESE... YOU'VE MANAGED TO TAKE
THESE STORIES FROM 50 OR SO
PEOPLE, 50 OF YOUR FRIENDS, YOU
PUT THEM ALL IN THIS BOOK.
WHAT IF YOU HADN'T?
WHAT IF THOSE STORIES NEVER HAD
BEEN RECORDED IN A BOOK?

The caption changes to "Giving back."

Liam says THEY WOULD BE GONE.

Steve says FOREVER.

Liam says YEAH, THERE ARE TWO IN THIS
BOOK IN THE ARCHIVES IN OTTAWA.
THE BOOK DEPOSITORY ARCHIVES.
AS SOON AS YOU GET A PSB NUMBER
THEY GO THERE.

Steve says AND WHERE ARE YOU
GIVING THE PROCEEDS OF THIS BOOK TO?

Liam says WE HAVE GIVEN 20,000 dollars TO
CHARITIES. WE SOLD 1,532 BOOKS.

Steve says ALREADY?

Liam says YEAH.

Steve says GOOD FOR YOU.

Liam says WE GOT THE BOOK SET UP, AND
WE WENT TO THE RESIDENTS AND WE
SAID HOW MANY BOOKS WILL YOU
BUY.
WE HAD PRICES FOR 100, 200, 300.
THEY SAID BUY 300.
I GOT CHICKEN AND I THOUGHT, OH,
GEEZ, YOU KNOW, 300, I DON'T
KNOW.
MAYBE WE SHOULD GO FOR A
HUNDRED.
SO I TOLD THE TWO GIRLS THAT ARE
THE CO-AUTHORS HERE, I TOLD THEM
I SAID LOOK IF THIS IS GOING TO
FLOP, BLAME IT ON ME, YOU KNOW.
I BULLIED YOU INTO IT.
OH, NO, NO, NO, LIAM.
SO THE FIRST DAY WE SOLD 100.
AND WE HAD A HIT.

Steve says THAT'S FANTASTIC.

Liam says YEAH.

Steve says YEAH, WELL DONE.
I'M GOING TO ASK YOU A BIT OF A
STRANGE FINAL QUESTION HERE,
OKAY?

Liam says CERTAINLY.

Steve says BECAUSE HERE WITHIN
SPITTING DISTANCE OF 100.
YOU'RE 96.
DO YOU THINK ABOUT TURNING 100?

Liam says NO.

Steve says YOU DON'T THINK ABOUT IT?

Liam says NO.
I LOOK DOWN ON MY BIG TOE IN THE
MORNING, AND IF THERE ISN'T A
YELLOW TAG ON IT, I SAY THE GOOD
LORD HAS GIVEN ME ANOTHER DAY.

The caption changes to "tvo.org/theagenda; agendaconnect@tvo.org."

Steve says BRIAN MULRONEY HAD A
LINE ABOUT THAT.
IF I DON'T FEEL A PINE BOX, I
KNOW IT'S GOING TO BE A GOOD
DAY.

Liam says THAT'S TRUE.

Steve says I KNOW IT'S FOUR YEARS
IN THE FUTURE, BUT YOU'RE WITHIN
SPITTING DISTANCE OF IT.
YOU DON'T THINK ABOUT IT?

Liam says NO, I DON'T, NO.
AND I HAVE NO FEAR OF IT EITHER,
YOU KNOW.
IF IT COMES, IT COMES.
I... THE ONLY THING THAT I WORRY
ABOUT IS DON'T LEAVE A MESS, YOU
KNOW?
I'M TELLING YOU, YOU CAN'T
AFFORD TO DIE.
I LOST MY WIFE JUST A YEAR AGO.
I HAVE SIGNED MORE PAPERS, I
HAVE GONE THROUGH MORE MISH MOSH
OF STRAIGHTENING THINGS OUT WITH
THE BANKS AND WITH THE
GOVERNMENT, AND I'M TRYING TO
GET MY LIFE IN ORDER SO THAT MY
THREE BOYS DON'T HAVE A PROBLEM
OF TRYING TO STRAIGHTEN OUT
MY...

Steve says GOTCHA.
YOU ARE IN THE BEST SHAPE OF ANY
96-YEAR-OLD I KNOW.
I MEAN, LOOK AT YOU, SIR.
YOU'RE IN TERRIFIC CONDITION
FROM WHAT I CAN SEE.

Liam says I DON'T KNOW ABOUT THAT.

Steve says WELL, NOW... WHICH
MAKES ME WANT TO ASK THIS, YOU
KNOW, THIS WAS YOUR LATEST
PROJECT.
DO YOU THINK ABOUT WHAT MORE YOU
WANT TO ACHIEVE WHILE YOU'RE
STILL HERE ON EARTH?

Liam says YOU KNOW, THE COMMITTEE LEAVE
THEM LAUGHING.
IF I CAN DO THAT.

Steve says THAT'S PRETTY GOOD
ADVICE.
IT'S A GREAT PLEASURE TO HAVE
YOU HERE ON OUR PROGRAM.

Liam says THANK YOU VERY MUCH, STEVE.

The caption changes to "Producer: Harrison Lowman, @harrisonlowman."

Steve says AND WE'LL REMIND
EVERYBODY OF THE TITLE OF THE
BOOK.
IT'S CALLED "AT YOUR AGE?"
YOU'RE WRITING A BOOK OF SHORT
STORIES AND POEMS.
ALL COMPILED BY EVE JONES, EDITH
WHITE, AND TODAY'S GUEST, LIAM
DWYER.
THANKS SO MUCH, MR. DWYER.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Liam says THANK YOU, STEVE.

Watch: Liam Dwyer: Telling Seniors' Stories