Writing a new chapter in life

Age is just a number for first-time authors

Her death still brings tears to Ed Hutton’s eyes.

Which is why it would be a gross understatement to say Hutton loved his wife, Mary (Pat) Hutton.

She was his best friend since the age of 14. His confidante. And for much of their 60-year marriage, his travel partner.

They toured Egyptian wonders in Cairo, enjoyed the sun, sea and sand that is St. Lucia, and spent holidays in Alaska before Pat died in October 2006, one month after the couple’s 60th anniversary party.

As a tribute to their enduring relationship and their many travels along the way, Hutton penned An Excellent Journey, a memoir about their extraordinary union.

Such a feat is commendable at any age, but the fact Hutton published the book in June at the age of 83 — his first — is worthy of extra praise.

“You have to know your subject,” Hutton says in his room in the Veterans wing of Sunnybrook hospital, where he’s recovering after breaking his neck this Easter.

The North Toronto resident, who began work on the 318-page tome four years before his wife passed away, says the book is meant to convey the great bond they shared.

Even when his injury threatened the book’s completion, Hutton persevered.

“At this age, you often wonder what’s going to intrigue him to keep going,” says Donna Young, one of Hutton’s six children. “When my mom passed, that’s what his job was: to write this book.”

Hutton’s hospital room is full of proof his job isn’t over.

Along with the expected sentimental objects — photos, cards and other mementos — are a couple of unlikely additions.

A high-tech computer, for one.

“And behind you is a wireless printer/scanner,” the grandfather of 17 and great-grandfather of seven says, gesturing to the room’s other gadget.

His room is also full of photo albums for his next project: a follow-up to Excellent.

Titled A Sentimental Journey, Hutton’s sequel will focus on his life after Pat and include his four trips since her death.

It never crossed his mind that he was too old to write such a book, especially one about his wife.

Fran Edelstein understands that kind of drive.

The Bayview and Eglinton area resident penned her first book, a collection of seven short stories, this year.

While writing has always been part of her life — Edelstein has been a freelance feature writer since the 1970s — she never dreamt she’d accomplish her main goal in life: publish a book.

Like Hutton, the great-grandmother went the self-publishing route, believing that waiting for a publisher would be too much effort at her age.

“You are never too old to follow your dreams,” Edelstein says over coffee at her condo.

Set to Music features tales on a variety of topics, including love and romance.

Edelstein hopes the book reaches a wide audience.

And she isn’t resting on her laurels, either.

Edelstein is already hard at work on other writing projects, including a play and an expanded version of one of Set’s stories.

Imagination was always part of Edelstein’s life. As a child, she and her friends would act out plays they concocted together.

But she never pursued full-time writing, instead choosing to work for the government and then as an antiques seller.

Still, the desire to be creative led Edelstein to take a writing course at Ryerson at the age of 42.

“This is where I always wanted to be,” Edelstein said in her speech at Set to Music’s book launch in May. “It took me 50 years to get here.”

Ann Tudor doesn’t follow Hutton’s age-is-just-a-number mentality, but the love of writing isn’t lost on the Bloor West author.

Tudor, who recently penned Hesitating at the Gate: Reflections on Aging, says writing allows her to express who she is.

“I never tried to write because when I was young I felt, ‘I don’t have anything at all to say’,” the 72-year-old says from her colourfully decorated home a stone’s throw from High Park. “After I was 50 or so … there were things I could say.”

The retired teacher didn’t accept the reality of aging until she reached the age of 65.

“I’ve always felt young and looked young, and when I turned 65, … I realized I wasn’t going to be getting any younger.”

It was shock, to the say the least.

“We all know we are going to get old and going to die, but you have to come to it in your own terms because you don’t really believe that you’re one of those people.”

That wakeup call is reflected in Hesitating.

“Aging is pretty much inevitable and we can learn to accept it in good grace,” says Tudor, who is no stranger to writing, having published 10 children’s books and spoken-word CDs on food.

Like Hutton and Edelstein, she believes in the power of putting pen to paper.

“I want to show people that you can reveal parts of yourself and you don’t die,” Tudor says.

An Excellent Journey by Ed Hutton is available by emailing Donna Young at [email=donnayoungrn@hotmail.com]donnayoungrn@hotmail.com[/email].

Set to Music by Fran Edelstein is available at several Indigo/Chapters bookstores around the city.

Hesitating at the Gate: Reflections on Aging by Ann Tudor is available at Book City and online at www.anntudor.ca. Tudor will host a book reading Nov. 7 at 4:15 p.m. at Swansea Town Hall.

About this article:

By: Lorianna De Giorgio
Posted: Nov 2 2009 5:31 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto