'I loved pizza': Grandson writes touching obituary in his 102-year-old grandma's words
Jackie Dunham, CTVNews.ca, with a report from CTV Atlantic's Ryan MacDonald
Published Thursday, March 14, 2019 8:45AM EDT
She loved pizza.
And lobsters. And Ice cream. And yogurt-covered pretzels. And pretty much every other type of food.
“An appetite is one thing I was never short of.”
So begins the heartfelt obituary written on behalf of a beloved 102-year-old Cape Breton woman by her grandson.
Gwendolyn Tobin died on Monday at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Nova Scotia. Her grandson Steven Tobin wrote a touching obituary as if in her words that was published in the Cape Breton Post later that day.
Besides her passion for eating, the woman known as “mum,” “ma,” “grannie,” “nan,” “Gwen,” “Mrs. Tobin,” and simply “Gwen dear” to so many, also had an appetite for life.
The centenarian was a prize-winning pie maker, an expert at frying and baking dough, and loved to read. She also cherished her family and friends, which included seven children, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
“I lived a wonderful life surrounded by warmth, love and community,” the obituary said.
Gwendolyn’s life was not always easy, however.
Born in Alder Point in May of 1916, Gwendolyn experienced tragedy when she was only 11 years old and her mother died. It wasn’t the only death of a loved one she would face, either.
“One of the hardest things I ever had to do was outlive 3 of my children,” the tribute read.
Living until she was nearly 103 years old, Gwendolyn also outlived her husband, grandson, and half-brother.
Despite the pain, Gwendolyn kept a positive outlook until the very end.
“If you know me though, the last thing I want you to do is feel sorry for me. There is no place for that,” Steven Tobin wrote.
“The only thing stronger than my appetite for food was my appetite for laughter. This included an ability to laugh at myself.”
The people in Gwendolyn’s life appeared to be very important to her as the majority of the obituary contains thanks to her family and various community members who helped her throughout her life.
The obituary’s most tender tribute, however, is to Gwendolyn’s daughter Kathy.
“You were my daughter, caretaker, cook, cleaner, chauffeur and so much more. You allowed me to stay in my home until the very end. You took me for Sunday drives and over the past 15 years or more became my best friend. You gave me dignity.”
Steven Tobin, who wrote the obituary, said he was always impressed by his grandmother’s perseverance.
“Her best quality, I think, was her strength and determination in being an independent woman,” he told CTV Atlantic.
The obituary has helped those who knew Gwendolyn remember her and the life she led.
“I laughed, I cried, and I laughed again,” granddaughter Donna McIntosh said. “And that’s what granny would want, more laughter.”
Gwendolyn’s children said she would have been uncomfortable by all the attention she’s receiving now, but that she would take it all in stride.
If Gwendolyn had one final message, McIntosh said it would be:
“Enjoy your food. Eat well and eat a lot,” she said with a laugh. “But the biggest thing is the positivity and the strength.”