“How’s my hair?” Jack Ward quipped before his close up.
The Trail Times sat down with the Columbia View Lodge resident last week, and take a look at Jack’s latest handcrafted endeavour which took about 18 months to complete – his replica airplane called a clipped wing T-Craft.
It’s no easy feat to build a model plane from fiddly wood and plastic pieces, especially one with has a six-foot wing span and the capacity to fly by remote control.
And, especially when it’s built by a person who has use of only one hand.
“I don’t know why I do it, I just like planes,” said Jack, mentioning his other interests, gardening and painting. “I do it a couple of hours a day, it takes awhile with one arm.”
Over the years, many of his aircraft models had to be given away to family members mostly due to living space constraints.
This T-Craft, however, he is hoping to hang up and display at the lodge.
And Jack already has a plans to build an even bigger model, called a Douglas DC-3.
Hobbies keep the lodge resident occupied as he works through physical challenges, always with quick wit – besides his work bench in a large common room, walls leading to Jack’s room are lined with his water colours and sketches, there’s even a a raised garden bed with his name on it.
Pastimes like building models, painting and tending garden, especially in the senior years, can refresh mind and body and help a person stay healthy, active and happy.
Spending time doing the things that one enjoys can delay certain signs of aging by offering mental stimulation and improving memory, the pleasure of participating can lead to positive feelings that enhance the immune system, even help fight against some illnesses.
“The benefits of hobbies are plentiful and solely dependent on the person and the type of hobby that is pursued,” explained Margot Wright, recreation therapist at CVL, Poplar Ridge and the Bridges Adult Day Program.
“Hobbies enhance our ability to overcome or cope with any constraints we may be facing, and assist us to grow toward our highest level of health and wellness in the physical, emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual areas of our lives.”
At Columbia View, staff is always try to find a way to support residents in maintaining their hobbies, Wright said.
“For those that crochet, we will find them crochet hooks and yarn, for those that like to bake, we schedule baking programs,” she added.
“Many of our residents have found their hidden artistic abilities through our painting and art groups.”
As for Jack and his model plane, Wright provided him with the space he needed for the project in a central area.
“It was important to give him the freedom to work on his project when he wanted to, not when we were able to schedule it,” she said.
”By having it in the central area, other residents – Bridges clients, volunteers, CVL visitors, family members and staff – could drop in and see the progress and chat with Jack.”
Jack’s hobby of building model aircraft spans 40 years. His many airplane collections were all built solely with his right hand, because Jack lost use of his left limb at the age of five.
The year was 1955.
Jack and his friends were playing at Pople Park, when the youngster decided to sit on top a homemade goalie net.
He says the net collapsed and hit him across the forehead, causing trauma to his brain.
“I was unconscious for two weeks,” Jack recalled. “The doctor told my mother he couldn’t do no more, and it was up to God to decide.”
After waking from a coma, Jack remembers his “second home” being hospital wards in Trail and Vancouver.
He never regained used of his left side, but Jack went on to live a full life that includes two sons.
Now 67, he’s been living at Columbia View Lodge for seven years.
“We are all in awe and very proud of Jack’s accomplishment and perseverance in completing this fantastic project,” Wright said.
“It has brought him many hours of joyful work, approximately two years, given Jack self-satisfaction and accomplishment and of course, inspired others to realize that they can achieve whatever they set their mind to.”