Nan’s no easy rider

An­nual mo­tor­cy­cle ride high­light of 94-year-old’s birth­day

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY MELISSA JENK­INS

A crisp new blouse with a blue pat­tern sits on Lil­lian “Nan” Butt’s bed, a birth­day gift from a close friend.

It’s a beau­ti­ful blouse and she ap­pre­ci­ates the kind ges­ture. But the high­light of her 94th birth­day on June 21 was not a ma­te­rial item. This was her sixth year tak­ing part in a mo­tor­cy­cle ride on Fa­ther’s Day, which fell on her ac­tual date of birth this year in this in­stance.

Many have called her crazy to get on a mo­tor­cy­cle at her age, but Nan lives by the say­ing you’re only as young as you feel.

If that’s the case, she feels decades younger, she tells The Com­pass dur­ing an in­ter­view at Lux­ury Es­tates in Car­bon­ear.

“I’m not a party pooper,” she said.

Hit­ting the road

It was 2009 when Vic­to­ria United Church saw a group of mo­tor­cy­cle riders gather for a Fa­ther’s Day ride. Rev. Jesse Bown blessed the riders, and Nan saw it as an op­por­tu­nity to do some­thing she al­ways wanted to.

“I said, ‘I’m go­ing to have a ride on the bike,’” the sharp and en­thu­si­as­tic woman ex­plains. It then be­came a tra­di­tion. “When June comes, I al­ways look for­ward to my birth­day,” said Nan, a dual citizen of Canada and the United States. “Not for the sake of my birth­day, but for my bike ride.”

A photo on the wall shows her first ride, which she is proud of. For the first few years, Nan wore a ban­dana on her head and a jean jacket. This year she tried some­thing dif­fer­ent.

“I wore scarves around my neck so they were fly­ing be­hind me,” a smile spreads across her face. “My friends think I’m nuts.”

No wor­ries

The idea that be­ing on a mo­tor­cy­cle could be dan­ger­ous or scary doesn’t cross Nan’s mind. She en­joys the wind in her face and driv­ing through the town on the back of the bike. “I’m hav­ing fun,” she ex­plains. When asked what other ex­cit­ing things she wants to do in the fu­ture, she is quick to re­ply with what is left on her to-do list — a he­li­copter ride and a bas­ket ride in a hot air bal­loon.

But that is not all she wants to do. Friends have in­vited her along to go zip lin­ing. Although she is not quite sure that will hap­pen yet, she is ex­cited about the pos­si­bil­ity.

Op­ti­mistic

A mini stroke within the last year forced Nan to leave her apart­ment, as could no longer live on her own. She moved into Lux­ury Es­tates not long af­ter.

“I stayed by my­self as long as I could.”

In her apart­ment she used to have visi­tors in for tea and also had a Nintendo Wii con­sole, which she used to play bowl­ing games with friends.

“I en­joyed all the com­pany,” she says.

As she ages there are things she can no longer do, but that is not a hin­der­ance. She has been asked by peo­ple if she could go back in time, what age would she choose.

“I say I never look back and wish I was younger again,” Nan ex­plains. “I en­joyed my life. I had won­der­ful par­ents, a won­der­ful hus­band and a nice Chris­tian life, and I en­joy it to the fullest.”

There are some things she hasn’t been able to take part in as much as she used to, like wa­ter aer­o­bics at the pool, and she doesn’t read much any­more due to re­duced vi­sion in her left eye. But Nan doesn’t al­low any of that to get her down.

“I have a lot of faith,” she said. “That’s why I’m in such good spir­its.”

Keep it go­ing

A doc­tor vis­its spo­rad­i­cally, and Nan has a clean bill of health thus far.

“He told me that I’m go­ing to live for another 50 years,” she laughs.

The self-pro­claimed “nutty” woman points out a plas­tic bird on a branch that sits on her night stand. She tells The Com­pass re­porter to go press the but­ton.

The bird be­gins to sing, “We wish you a merry Christ­mas,” and Nan smiles a wide grin.

That is one of her favourite items — it also shows how quirky she is. Sev­eral of her friends re­ceived the same bird from her as a gift, but she doesn’t know if they still have them. If they don’t, Nan be­lieves it’s be­cause they’re not as nutty as she is.

The fun will never end for her ei­ther. She wants to con­tinue do­ing the fun things that make life ex­cit­ing, and hopes to keep rid­ing the bike for years to come.

“Ev­ery year I’ll be on that bike as long as I’m alive.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO BY ASH­LEY HIS­COCK

Lil­lian “Nan” Butt (left) sits on the back of Nick Ash’s mo­tor­cy­cle on her 94th birth­day, Sun­day, June 21.

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