On Friday June 26 1914, my grandmother, Margaret Thomson Barr (née McGowan) was born. In the hundred years that have gone by, she has brought alive core values that have inspired and led those around her. I am so incredibly fortunate to share her as a grandmother, and as she becomes a centenarian tomorrow, I am overjoyed to be celebrating her.
My grandmother lives in Kimberley B.C., her home for most of her 100 years, and I always look forward to each opportunity I have to visit, speak with her on the phone or see her via FaceTime. Our conversations usually focus on politics, hockey, family, and to affirm the Canadian nature of it all – the weather. We compare precipitation levels, we discuss the state of goaltending around the NHL – usually that of the Canucks – and she explains with vigour what provincial and federal politicians have been up to lately and how they should be held more accountable. Having been alive longer than the NHL has existed, and having lived out the terms of 15 different prime minsters it is well within her expertise to appraise positions on the ice and in the parliament. That being said the greatest joys in our conversations are when she relates stories of her incredible experiences and when we talk of our family, which owes so much to her values and her leadership.
Commitment, determination and work ethic are strong characteristics of my grandmother. There are numerous stories from her time as a nurse, beginning in the 1930s, that have her meeting challenges, and serving others. From overcoming a very valid fear of bears lurking on the trail while walking to the hospital, to fighting for rights at work, to nursing in Bermuda during the war – she has never been one to back away from a challenge. When she has a goal or task in mind, she is tireless in its completion.
As the second oldest among seven siblings, she grew up helping to take care of others. Caring for others, expression of kindness, being selfless, and prioritizing family are the values she has lived, passed on, and continues to focus on to this day. From my very first summer, to those in to my teenage years, I spent my formative Julys and Augusts on her Lake Windermere property and witnessed how she was incredibly welcoming to all visitors and so selfless in everything she did. As I grew older and took in more and more stories of everything she had done for her siblings, for her own children – my mother and aunt – and how she has continually watched over her four grandchildren, and now two great-grandchildren I am continually astounded with her kindness. She worries – for others and never for herself. She goes out of her way to think of others’ needs and experiences.
Out of my teens, into my twenties, and now beyond, I cherish everything I have learned, and continue to learn from the most amazing woman I have ever known. She laid the foundation for a strong and loving family that takes care of each other. She inspired me to experience a full life. Some of my happiest moments are sharing my experiences and photos from adventures with my grandmother. Her keenness, encouragement, and unwavering support of every risk I have taken and every challenge I have accepted – has given and still gives me strength on a daily basis. As someone who knows the effort needed to take on goals, and to overcome fears, it is incredibly powerful to have her unwavering support and love.
My grandmother turns 100, and I simply do not have the words to express how much I love her, and how much her love means to me, and how much I know it means to our entire family. I am such a better person because of her love.
Happy Birthday Grandma!