For Jean Perdue, 93, of Chartwell Scarlett Heights in Etobicoke, Ontario, writing poetry began as a way to express her feelings. As she gained independence and began rediscovering herself later in life, words flowed freely in the form of hundreds of poems. Jean dreamt that one day she would see her large collection of poems published in a book; that wish was granted in June thanks to Chartwell’s partnership with Wish of a Lifetime Canada.
Jean grew up on a family farm in Huntsville, Ontario. During World War II, she joined the women’s division of the Royal Canadian Air Force, excited to work in the intelligence department in Ottawa and to help the war effort. Soon after, she married and had two children. When her marriage didn’t last, Jean needed a way to find her voice, to rebuild her confidence and to face the world. Writing poetry allowed her the space to reflect on the past and dream of new hopes. In her poems, she was able to reconnect with the courageous young girl who volunteered in World War II and loved with all her heart.
Jean’s poetry shares insights into love, motherhood, grief and faith, along with the experience of growing up. Her poems are honest, unassuming and beautifully touching in their simplicity. Through her thoughtful observations, we see the everyday expressed in simple, yet powerful, ways. She shares the pieces of her life in a way that carefully wraps you into her world and makes you experience what she is feeling.
After discovering poetry, Jean was lucky enough to fall in love again when she met her second husband, Sherman, at a weekly euchre game. The couple enjoyed 10 wonderful years together, volunteering within their retirement community, playing card games and doting on their cat, Waifer. Upon losing Sherman in 2016, Jean once again turned to her poetry and found comfort in her creative space.
“I miss holding hands as we walked
The wonderful stories he told when we talked
The thank you breakfasts that I prepared
And all the precious moments we shared”
- An excerpt from July Sixteen, Twenty Sixteen
Jean continues to volunteer at her residence, leading exercise classes and bingo games. She hopes that her journey can empower and inspire other women, across all generations, to persevere in the face of hardship and to embrace the beauty of life every day.