THE BACK STORY:
I had seen Thelma and Irvin so many times while driving to and from my house and while I was out running. They have become part of the experience of these roads. I had wanted to talk to them for a while, and in a random kid-less moment (because doing things with 3 kids in tow is not always the most productive), I saw my chance. I parked in a nearby parking lot, ran to catch up with them, and breathless, introduced myself. I asked if I could ask them some questions and photography them. I told them they were inspiring and I loved seeing them out here all the time walking together. Thelma told me yes, but not to take any pictures of her face. She kept saying, “I see that, girlie!” when I’d sneak one in.
Thelma and Irvin are both in their 90’s, they both have bad hearts, and they still get out to walk whenever they can. It doesn’t give me any excuses. They are dynamo to me. I’ve even heard other friends mention them. I think sometimes it’s easy to forget the simple things, like taking a walk with your loved ones, and how meaningful and how much of an example to others that is. They are joining my community of dynamos.
Dynamo people are those who are moving forward in their healthy living in whatever way they can. This looks different from person to person. We are all in different places. I’m celebrating wherever you and they are at in this journey. Celebrating each others’ successes and being inspired by our collective stories will propel us all to be strong, be brave, and be kind. Be strong in your convictions and when you’re not, find a Dynamo for yourself. With that, here’s Thelma and Irvin.
(all answers from Thelma unless marked “Irvin”)
Can I walk with you?
We stop here. We used to walk up to Cornell and then he became 95 and he decided that’s too much. He’ll be 96 in March. And we’ve been married 74 years, 75 in June. I’m 93.
How old were you when you got married?
Irvin – I was 21.
Thelma – I was 19.
Thelma – We live on Cornell at Creekside or…Creekside on Cornell…Commons at Creekside… Sometimes I have it and sometimes I never have it! (laughs) We still take care of ourselves.
Have you always lived in here?
No. We lived in Eastern Oregon, between Walla Walla and Pendleton, Oregon. In a little tiny town.
How did you end up in here?
Our daughter lives here. We have a little health problem, so we wanted to be by her. So far, the Lord has been good. It could be better the other way, I don’t know.
How often do you come out and walk?
Our son gave us raining gear. But we don’t walk out in the rain very much.
(Here I take a sideways selfie with Thelma and Irvin) …You behave yourself!
We have to stop.
We do have heart problems. He has congestive heart failure and I have atrial fibrillations. We’ve made it so far. When our numbers up, it’s up.
(talking about kids)
Kids are a blessing if you make them mind. They’ll always push you but you have to be boss. I made mine go get a switch. They’d come back with little tiny stuff and I’d make them go back. You can raise them the way you think they should be and they might not be that way.
I watched other kids. We liked them so much that sometimes we would keep them on the weekends. They were teachers’ kids or nurses’ kids. I took them sometimes at 9 months, well, one was 6 months, and raised them up to kindergarten. I love kids. I still love you kids.
How many grandkids do you have?
Only 2 and they’re not even married. Both of them were in the navy. One was in there for 6 years, something into radiation. The other one was an officer.
How long have you been walking out here?
For years. Since 2006 up here. We walked on the beach for 5 years. A thousand trails. We lived in a little motorhome but we were volunteering our time all the time. So we weren’t in it much. We were at the senior citizen center. We volunteered a lot and would have liked to have lived there. But then we weren’t doing well, so we came up here. I would have liked to stay there. We came here because of our daughter. I had friends there. But since we have moved, most of our friends have moved.
We had a treadmill and a bicycle, but it was so boring. We watched TV, but it was boring. You never met anyone exciting like you. It’s really nice.
We speak to everybody. Some of them aren’t very cordial. But as time goes by, they get so they say “hi”. You never know who you’re talking to, whether it’s an angel or not. Maybe you’re an angel.
What difference do you think it makes?
The doctors say you need to. I sleep better and everything.
(I point out my car to them)
We had our car stolen. It was just what we wanted. We LOVED that car. They stole it right outside our window.
(dog walks by)
I’m scared to death of dogs. Those pit bulls will come right at you. They could eat you.
What’s one of your goals right now?
How can you a have a goal?! I guess it’s heaven. Just to be around and meet nice people.
What do you hope your children and grandchildren remember you for?
Thelma – That we are Christian. Though we are far from perfect, we’re trying.
Irvin – For the good things that I do. It should be good for God. If God thinks it’s good.
When you were younger, were you very active?
Oh yah, we would paint our house and carried blocks and build a decent lawn. Oh, yah. Very active. Boy scout leader and campfire girls, church, church, church, PTA, everything. Yah, you get busy when you raise those kids.
Irvin, what did you do for your job?
Irvin – I worked as a mechanic, a diesel mechanic. Like the caterpillars and John Deere.
Thelma – His highest wages was $11 an hour.
Shine where you are.