As I, Margaret Mackay, approach my 99th birthday - Saturday, July 7th , I want to express my gratitude to all of you for being on this long, life journey with me.
In place of a large gathering or even smaller gatherings.... (some of the challenges of getting older is more limited energy, hearing and mobility)...I thought I would write a letter to each one of you sharing my reflections on turning 99. That is a lot of history - world, family ,friends - to absorb and be grateful for. The world has changed a lot over the years...but these things remain:
> the enormous importance of community - always..
> the joy of living simply, gratefully and with purpose
> the abiding strength and hope of faith
Let us continue to give thanks and pray for each other as our journeys unfold.
Peng-an..and thank you,
Margy (Margaret Lucy Mackay)
Reflections on Turning 99
Stay, stranger, stay
as you are passing by.
As you are now
so once was I.
As I am now
you soon may be
Oh,then, prepare to follow me.
This is a poem from a park in Hong Kong that we, the Mackay family, visited many years ago. It seems a fitting way to begin a small reflection on turning 99.
I am grateful for so many things. This treasure trove of memories of growing up with my siblings in Tamsui..what a gift that was. We thought Tamsui was the most wonderful place on earth. And then my brothers and sisters and I went to the Canadian Academy in Kobe, Japan, as boarders. That was another adventure. It was a four day trip on a ship..we travelled second class (with cabins and bunks) and went to the dining room for Japanese-style meals. The Canadian Academy was made up mostly of Canadian and American families who lived in Japan. We had our larks and lots of fun memories…along with having a pretty strong academic tone. We wrote the Ontario Provincial exams..and we always did well.
We were born with this wonderful Mackay history of George Leslie Mackay, our grandfather..our missionary roots and life..our families in Taiwan and in Canada. The whole Church connection was simply part of our heritage. Our family home in Tamsui has been made into a museum: Mackay Memorial Museum. For us, it was our much-loved home where we as a family lived and loved. I feel we grew up with two homelands: Formosa (now Taiwan) and Canada. What a gift!
It is impossible to sum up a whole long life…I find it ‘ridiculous’ that I am turning 99..and, yet, I think of the Winnie the Pooh line: I didn’t know we were making memories, I thought we were just having fun. Over the years, there were, of course, many joys and sorrows: all the history involved in living from 1919 to now; my siblings and I growing up and leaving home; the death of our much-loved brother, Leslie, during World War II (1942); the death of our father (1963) and our leaving Taiwan as a family (1968); wonderful friends made and enjoyed ; the various places that we Mackay sisters lived in Toronto..with our mother for a while until her death (1969); the many pets we loved over all the years: our favourite Tamsui dog – Samuel Samson Samkin de Daniel to the last dog we brought to keep our mother company in Canada– Parka. Anna and I have always had a cat to entertain us. Misty is my much-loved cat who gives me much joy right now.
We were all blessed to do what we loved: Anna – teaching; Ross – a world-recognized geologist; Isabel – a nurse; and I retired from the Admin. Office of U.of T. with people I loved to work with. Knox Presbyterian Church has always been our home Church and our faith home…from beginning to end…and always,
we stayed connected to Taiwan and our many friends there and here.
Mostly, I feel great gratitude for Tamsui, Taiwan, and all we lived there and the rich Mackay heritage we inherited. I feel blessed with a lifetime of wonderful friends and family – including all of you who are reading this. In my old age, I am also grateful beyond measure to those dear friends and workers who have helped me live so well in my own home. You all have my deep thanks for sharing this life journey with me..and faith sustains it all.
And so I close with the Traveller’s Psalm that we Mackays always sang when we were going on a trip (for example, when we went off to school or on furlough):
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in
From this time forth,
And even for evermore.
Peng-an…and great blessings on your journey,