Vernon grandma’s got 108 moves at 95

Maryanne Thomas, the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ number one fan, in 2011. (Kim Kimberlin photo)Maryanne Thomas, the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ number one fan, in 2011. (Kim Kimberlin photo)
Maryanne Thomas kneads away in the kitchen. Jan. 2023. (Photo submitted)Maryanne Thomas kneads away in the kitchen. Jan. 2023. (Photo submitted)
Maryanne Thomas (front) teaching Tai Chi in Vernon in 2013. (Kim Kimberlin photo)Maryanne Thomas (front) teaching Tai Chi in Vernon in 2013. (Kim Kimberlin photo)
Maryanne Thomas (middle) with her four kids, Larry, Linda, Bev and Brian (L to R). (Photo submitted).Maryanne Thomas (middle) with her four kids, Larry, Linda, Bev and Brian (L to R). (Photo submitted).

I am fortunate to have my grandmother in my life.

Sixty years my senior, she officially retired as a tai chi instructor when she turned 93, her exercise students like family.

Yet, two years later, she can still perform all 108 tai chi moves.

She’s a mother of four, grandmother of eight, great-grandmother of 13 and a mother figure to many others.

She’s an extraordinary example of someone who works hard, loves well and sees the glass half full (with ice, if red wine).

While I could fill an entire newspaper with all the reasons I love her, I’ve done my best (with the help of my extended family) to compile some of our favourite things about her. So, in no particular order, here it goes.

Okanagan summers are hot and the backdrop to where so many of our cherished memories take place. In her kitchen, we’d gather around her, kneading bread, canning fruit, making jams or assisting with the weekly dinner menu.

Her garden was abounding with flowers, raspberries, tomatoes, chives and more, all of which we were happy to pick and eat with her.

She always ensures our bellies are fed (and the dishes are done). Don’t expect the bowl of nibbling (butter-baked Cheezies, Shreddies, Chex and Cheerios) to last longer than a few hours.

“(She’s) like a snack vending machine – except instead of coins, we just (had) to give (her) a hug before we (left),” said her granddaughters, Sylvia and Annette.

She’s creative, clever and resourceful.

For example, when food prices went up, she convinced her children that the funny-tasting milk was due to the cows eating something different and not because she had secretly switched over to the more affordable option of powdered skim milk.

As a result, some of us have grown to love it, while others stick to water.

She always likes to have fun, whether it was taking her family of six camping in two tents (and later in a tent trailer) or sleeping overnight on the deck with her grandkids.

You will hear her yell “corner” to avoid collisions in the house, cheer on the Saskatchewan Roughriders and sing along with the music from her record player.

She keeps her home lively and is still quick as a whip when it comes to card and board games.

“Grandma was the first person to teach me how to gamble as a young teenager.

In the months leading up to summer vacation, I would save and collect nickels and quarters to take to Vernon. Evenings in Vernon were spent playing card games Nickle Me and Chase the Ace.

Those who were successful could walk away from the table with upwards of three dollars,” her grandson Rob recalled.

She’s as thoughtful as they come, sending cards and stickers to friends and family on every occasion, singing Happy Birthday over the phone, and even sending Christmas cakes in the mail.

The most recent card she mailed me told me how proud she was of me.

I cried and tucked it away in a box filled with her many other cards.

I know she’s proud of all of her family; our Christmas trees are all adorned with her handmade ornaments.

The matriarch of our family, she makes sure everyone feels loved, welcomed and a part of the family.

She’s had many names over the years – Tootsie, Marion, Maryanne or Annie Mary, to name a few, but her best names are mom, grandma and great-grandma.

So here’s to you, mom/grandma/great-grandma!

We love you infinitely and wish you the happiest 95th birthday (or, as you’d prefer, 59th birthday, we’ll let you decide) on Feb. 25.

Hokey Dinah!

READ MORE: Vernon thrift store wraps first place in van contest

READ MORE: A very big gift from the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

and subscribe to our daily newsletter.

Senior birthday cardSeniorsVernon