“I just got out the Old English polish and I’m going to be dusting, so knock loud so I don’t miss you,” said 99-year-old Dorscie Paterson last Wednesday.
Nailing down a day to interview this busy senior is a challenge. The Langley Hospice volunteer always has something on the go.
On the upcoming Robbie Burns Day (Jan. 25), Paterson will turn 100 years old. Haggis is not likely on the menu, she laughed.
The retired teacher still gets ID’d, but at this time in her life it’s from people doubting that this spry senior is really nearly 100.
As for becoming a centenarian, she dismisses the hoopla.
“It’s just a number,” she said with a wave of the hand.
“I went for my physical for my driver’s licence last week and my doctor said the Motor Vehicle Branch is probably going to think you bribed me,” she said with a hearty laugh.
“I feel good.”
It was just a few years ago, at 97, that she went horseback riding with her granddaughter and great-granddaughter in the Interior. A framed picture of the outing hangs in her hallway.
So how do you celebrate 100 years on this Earth?
“I haven’t planned a thing,” said Paterson. “I’ll leave that to my family.”
She did buy herself a new riding mower in October and, yes, she plans to mow her huge lawn herself.
“Of course. Why wouldn’t I?” she said.
Perhaps the secret to a long, healthy life is her “can-do” attitude.
She thinks a key ingredient is “keeping busy.”
“Not busy doing housework but busy being productive. Each day learn something. Do different things, help your fellow man,” she said.
Judging from all the awards of appreciation and certificates of thanks for her volunteering, it’s obvious helping others and giving of her time is a key component to who Paterson is.
Every week for the past 31 years, she can be found volunteering at the Langley Hospice, offering support and care for dying patients and their families.
She is one of the founding members of hospice in Langley and fought hard to get the society where it is today. She is active on both Langley Hospice boards.
When you ask people about Dorscie Paterson, they respond that she is “a doer.” She is a firecracker, with a positive attitude and a passion for people.
She has more awards and medals than she has wall space for, in her quaint acreage home which is located near the new development in Willoughby.
When she turns 100, she will be adding another certificate from the Queen to her wall.
Last March, she received the Women of Excellence award from the International Women’s Day committee, for all the volunteering she does.
She has also received the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award in Victoria in recognition of all her charity work.
There’s also several awards from the Lions Club and the Hospice Society.
Always up on the latest news, Paterson is a bit of an activist, too — a raging granny if you will.
In 2000, she gained the attention of several high-profile politicians and media outlets from around the country, when she turned off the heat in her home for a month during a particular cold snap, to protest the rising costs of [then] Terasen Gas.
She said she was fighting for seniors across B.C. who couldn’t afford to heat their homes. She started a letter writing campaign and gathered thousands of signatures and sent them to the B.C. government.
In the last provincial election, she volunteered with MLA Mary Polak’s campaign, and she may get involved this year with MLA Rich Coleman.
A long-time member of the Salvation Army church, Paterson said she recently wrote her great-grandchildren a letter and told them to keep it and look at it from time to time.
“I wrote them that there are 10 rules to follow in life. They are easy, common sense rules. I told them that if they follow that, they can honestly stand up with pride in who they are and say they did their best in this world,” she said.
“It’s the 10 Commandments — don’t cheat, don’t lie, common sense living.”
Raised by a single mom who became the first female member of the West Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, she learned from her mother the ethics of working hard and achieving as much as you can.