Opinion » Maxed Out

A light has gone out, but a memory lives on

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I got to know her late in life when she was an indefatigable volunteer for, well, everything. I'm sure Lil didn't actually volunteer for everything... it just seemed that way. Whistler Community Services? Check. Food Bank? Check. Library? Double check. More charities than you or I could name? You bet.

Someone undoubtedly told Lil at an early age that an idle mind is the devil's workshop. The poor bastard never stood a chance of catching her. The only time I ever saw her idle was when she was enjoying a cup of tea. Of course, she'd just made the tea and served it to me along with some ever-present biscuits. "Have another... go on."

I'd met Lil and Howard because their son-in-law had questionable taste in friends: me. But I got to know Lil a bit better when she was on a quest to corner the market in lost golf balls.

Lil collected lost golf balls the way some people collect mushrooms. She'd get up early and traipse through the wet grass at the local courses — often with young granddaughters Ali and Lonnie in tow — to get to even wetter water hazards, ponds and streams. Ever intrepid, Nana and the girls would wade in and collect errant balls left behind in a cloud of invective by ever-hopeful hackers.

The fruits of their labours were sold at reasonable prices to other golfers; the proceeds went directly to one or another of the many charities Lil was always donating time and money to.

One year when the Whistler Angling Club, working with the Fisheries Stewardship group, erected a fish trap on Blackcomb Creek — a net strung across the creek — we managed to detain a few fish to help us get a handle on the creek's spawning activity. Mostly though, we caught golf balls flowing downstream from several of the diabolically difficult holes at the Chateau Whistler golf course, dozens each day. Good balls, not crappy old water balls, the kind of balls people who were paying a hundred bucks for a round of frustration wouldn't mind losing.

"Hey, I know who could put these to good use," I offered. Nana took them all happily, passed them on at a profit and donated the windfall to those in need.

And if you think scavenging golf balls is, well, unusual, entrepreneurial even, you obviously never had Nana put the touch on you to buy tulip bulbs.

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