If my mum had survived cancer the second time around she would be 85 this month, and I have no doubt she would still be hosting her famous tea parties, arguing politics and generally causing a storm at every opportunity.
She was lively and bright — that's not to say she didn't have her secrets — everyone has those and deals with their demons as best they can. But our childhood, while a bit tumultuous, was full of love and caring and rather a lot of spur-of-the moment living.
It's been 16 years since she passed away, and I miss her each and every day.
So when I met Lil Goldsmid after I moved to Whistler and she took my cold hand in hers, held it rather fiercely and bid me welcome, saying I looked like I needed to settle down, well, I felt like I had met someone with a wee bit of my mum in her.
We ran into each often over the years — she was always doing good work; at the Giant Book Sale at the IGA, at the bulb sale, and Myrtle Philip Elementary School where she met both my kids and we worked together as volunteers. I would look at her out of the corner of my eye as she worked her gentle magic, and I would think maybe my mum would have been like her, maybe I can be like her too.
We lost Lil this past week and my heart is heavy.
But her contribution to our community is part of the fabric of what Whistler is really about — yes, we exist in a way to look after, educate and entertain the visitor — but at our core we are about each other.
You only had to step in the door of the Wildwood on Sunday to see that community support at work. Hundreds turned out, giving tens of thousands of dollars to help cancer-fighter Patricia Stoop raise money for a drug that is keeping her alive, but that our taxpayer-funded medical system won't fully pay for (that's another whole editorial!).
Young and old gathered to celebrate that feeling of community and help someone who herself gives tirelessly where she can.
These days many of our busiest volunteers are seniors and I often think of them as I collapse after a hard day of work and feel rather ashamed that I can't keep up with them.
This week Canada celebrated National Seniors Day — a day not to be celebrated sitting down, but rather by dancing as seniors do every Oct.1 as part of the "Let's Dance Party." Seniors right here in Whistler joined in at the Fairmont Chateau where parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Health for Seniors, Linda Larson, led the dance.
Currently, seniors (65+) make up more than 16 per cent of the population in British Columbia, and this number is expected to double in the next 20 years to an estimated 1.4 million.
Twenty months ago the province launched its new seniors plan and while it looks good on paper the execution has been underwhelming.
Here in Whistler we are used to seeing our seniors fit and healthy, many passing us on the ski runs. But too many seniors struggle under a growing debt load, suffer from dementia, or other ailments or are even abused.
It is all of our responsibility to ensure that our elders spend their last years comfortably if we can.
We are fortunate in Whistler that we have a vocal and active seniors' lobby group — though they might bristle at that description. The Mature Action Committee (MAC) has helped work for seniors' housing and been vocal on other issues in the resort as well for 20 years — its first exploratory meeting was held in 1993.
Today the resort has its own seniors' drop in centre thanks to the work of MAC and local government.
But there is always more to do.
So this week, especially, reach out to seniors you know and thank them for all they do — and if you know of one in need, help them.
We are all in this together.