This post was inspired by a beautiful tribute I saw on the New York Times today.
I wish I knew about it sooner because our family lost someone really special this year and I really wanted to tell people about her. So, here goes.
I met Grandma Thelma in May 2005 -- at her 95th birthday party. She wore a matching bubble gum pink suit, with the smile and personality to match.
Grandma Thelma was a bona fide world traveler and loved to tell stories. She knit little dolls and animals in her spare time and listed mint juleps among her favourite cocktails. She loved her coffee piping hot.
For the last several years, Grandma Thelma and I were penpals. And whenever I'd send a letter or card, I could always expect her handwritten reply right away.
Four years ago, we moved into a loft on Carlaw Avenue. I wrote to tell her about it and she was so excited when she wrote back. Turns out she used to live on Carlaw too, back when she was a little girl. It was hard for me to imagine that on the Carlaw Avenue she knew, there were more horses on the streets than there were cars.
Grandma Thelma passed away this September. She was 101 but, if you let her get away with it, she'd say she was 102.
We saw her just a few days before she'd passed. She was really tired and, for the first time ever, she wasn't waiting for us when we arrived; perched atop on her bed, ready to show us around and tell us what she'd been up to. There were balls of yarn and little hand-knit dolls all over her room. A tiny pair of legs, with needles still attached, sat unfinished on her dresser.
That last day, she told us was about how she loved being active and playing sports. She used to swim as a young girl with her sister near the Scarborough Bluffs and was a lawn bowler well into her 80s. Being active, she believed, was the reason why she had lived such a great, long and healthy life.
But I think having a big heart really helped too. Even though I wasn't born her granddaughter, she really was my Grandma Thelma.