Celebrating a century

Grandma moved to Oshawa only a few years ago when she sold her home in Peterborough, to live in a retirement home not far from me. My Grandma, Katharine Ross, has always been my person, and I am blessed to be hers. This time of COVID-19 has been lonely and challenging for everyone. For our community’s seniors and the people who love them, it has been unimaginable. I am registered at Grandma’s residence to be her essential caregiver, and during a pandemic, that has been a vital connection for us both.

No matter how many years someone has lived on this planet, no one remembers such a strange and upsetting time. Despite the heaviness of this pandemic, there have been bright moments that are determined to shine through. My Grandma Ross’s 100th birthday “party” this spring, was one of those moments.

100 years must be celebrated – but a birthday party during a global pandemic was not an option. I coordinated with family and friends from across the country to bring everyone together in spirit through the magic of “Zoom.” Folks who hadn’t seen each other in decades were all together on the same computer screen, watching a slideshow of 100 years’ worth of photos – spanning Katharine’s childhood in Summerland, B.C., a lifetime up at Stoney Lake, and recent photos with grandchildren in Oshawa. Grandma was able to see and talk to her two 1st cousins (in their 90’s!) whose children helped them with the technology. It was very special to have a virtual, online birthday party with so many people celebrating together, while apart.

Oshawa MPP Jennifer French, with her Grandma, who recently celebrated her 100th birthday. (Photos submitted)

As she told those who celebrated her safely online: “Well. Did you ever think I’d get this far? No! But it has been fun, and I’m happy and I’m in good health… if I just had some sleep!” She says “You don’t get to be 100 by being lazy. But you just keep putting first one foot, then the other…”

Grandma doesn’t recall if they had running water in 1921. 100 years later, she marked her birthday on a computer screen with people across North America laughing, reminiscing and “gathering” real-time, but not in person. Times and technologies change, but the need to share warm moments and milestones with people we love, ties us together across generations. Grandma has been loved for 100 years – in person – and now, “online.”

Jennifer French was first elected in 2014 to the Ontario Legislature as the MPP for Oshawa. She and her Grandma both live in Oshawa. Please connect with Jennifer’s office with any questions about provincial issues jfrench-co@ndp.on.ca or 905-723-2411.