Senior Spotlight - My Story…

The Reston Recorder chose Isabel Zarn of Cromer, as their third Senior’s Spotlight.

Isabel is a very active senior at the age of 75, born in 1943. I was born in Virden and lived on the family farm at Woodnorth, my maiden name was Lowdon,” said Zarn. “When I turned 5-years-old, we moved into Woodnorth, so that I could start school. However, I was sent home my first day, because I was too young.”

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 Isabel is the youngest of a family of 9 siblings. Her sister, Alva Williams, is her only remaining sibling.

 Isabel and her husband Henry were married in December of 1962, they have two daughters, Tracey and Jody, and one grandson, Luke.

 Isabel has had various jobs over the years including: telephone operator; teacher; interior painter; music coordinator for Look Music; guard at Reston RCMP; Statistics Canada representative; CIBC bank teller; Manitoba Crop Insurance adjuster; safety instructor - teaching: First Aid, CPR, WHMIS, TDG, Confined Space Safety and H2S; author of the first safety course manual for Assiniboine Community College for the pork industry; instructed first courses for ‘Safety in the Swine Barns’ at ACC; regional co-ordinator for Manitoba Crop Insurance adjusters; instructor for workshops for MCIC.

  Isabel has strong connections with the Cromer Community Club. “In 2008, Henry had an idea to start a Stick Horse Rodeo in Cromer,” said Zarn. They discussed what it should be like:

  1. event mainly for small children as most events are geared for those of school age
  2. we should have as many real rodeo events that we could create so the children could have as real a rodeo experience as possible
  3. every child should be a winner which meant that there would be no judging
  4. there would be no entry fee
  5. a free pancake breakfast for the community
  6. free lunch for all the children
  7. every child would get a prize
  8. each child should convert his/her wagon into a chuckwagon, and we would auction the tarps, just like the Calgary Stampede
  9. we would have a parade of the cowboys and cowgirls with their chuckwagons
  10. there would be a hitching rail for the horses
  11. the money from the tarps would go to the child to purchase a special gift that they wanted or to further their education, and from there we began.

 “Lynne Rookes and Cathy Rookes worked tirelessly to create our vision,” explained Zarn.  “Over the years it has evolved as more community members got involved.”

 Isabel believes that community spirit binds us together. It is important to have someone to turn to in tough times, illnesses and hardships. It is also just as important to have someone to share our joys and celebrations with. She feels that community gives our young people a place where they feel they belong. It provides each of us a safe place to land when troubles overcome us. It is the core of who we are, and provides each of us with the strength to become who we are meant to be.

 “Over the years, we have suffered the loss of family members and friends,” said Zarn. “We have had to rely on our community to help us through.”

 Isabel stated that she really doesn’t know what growing old means. “I understand that I am 75 years old, but inside my head, I feel like I’m 35 years old,” said Zarn. “I behave like I’m 20 or younger, but my body reminds me that I’m not quite as swift or as strong!” Isabel has a very positive outlook on life. “I love life. I can do what I want, when I want…most of the time,” said Zarn. “My health is still good. I have a man and two girls whom I love, and they love me. What else could a person ask for?”

 In her spare time, Isabel enjoys painting, socializing and watching TV.

 They have done a fair bit of travelling including 4 trips to England, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, an Alaska cruise, a road trip to the Yukon and travelled to Toronto and Minneapolis to watch Blue Jays games. “It’s interesting to travel, I enjoy people watching, seeing the different architecture and learning how different people live. There is so much to learn about our world,” said Zarn. “Every time we have travelled it was always nice to get home to be in our own bed, with our own surroundings.”

 When asked if she could live her life over again, what would she change, Isabel said she wouldn’t change a thing. “I’ve made my share of mistakes, had some lucky breaks, learned a lot from every job I’ve had and every person I’ve met. My life has been full,” explained Zarn. “Life on the farm has been good to us. There isn’t a better place to live. We plan to stay here as long as we are able, until it is time for us to go elsewhere, we’ll just keep breathing!

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