My beautiful, eclectic and witty daughter Kelsey passed away on May 8, 2022.
Born October 30, 1990 in Calgary, Kelsey was a beautiful baby. Her great grandmother Gladys Bittorf was there right from the start and cared for her when I had surgery in 1992 in Toronto. She was a happy baby with an infectious laughter. Blonde curly hair and big beautiful blue eyes, she was outgoing and friendly; quick to smile and engage people around her. Once on a bus in Calgary she had everyone singing along with her - “the wheels on the bus go round and round.”
We moved to Vancouver in 1994 which allowed her to spend time with her grandparents Donna, Allan, Gloria, Jim and Jan. She was loved, had fun, and learned so much from them. She was truly blessed and supported by her grandparents; I am very grateful for all the enrichment they added to her life.
Kelsey had a unique style and was always one step ahead of most fashion trends. Her joy and skill at thrift shopping was epic... Once when she was about 4 or 5 we walked into a thrift shop and she b-lined it to the back of the store, reached into a rack, and within seconds pulled out two very expensive cashmere sweaters in mint condition.
Kelsey and I shared a deep love of music; jazz, rock, punk, rap, hip hop, Motown…. Paul Simon’s Graceland was one of her favourite albums. When she was a child we would go to the children's festival, concerts, plays, art galleries, museums; It was a happy time for us living in Vancouver and having opportunities to embrace art and culture. We went to Buddhist temples, shared food with the Hari Krishnas, attended festivals and danced to the community band at Grandview Park. Kelsey was a bright light on Commercial Drive and in the housing co-op where we lived.
Kelsey’s early years at the Waldorf school and living in a home with no TV instilled a life-long love of reading. In grade 7 her teacher called me to say she had tested at university-level reading comprehension.
We moved to Kelowna during Kelsey’s High School years. She stayed true to who she was; dressing in outlandish outfits, sporting her wild- coloured hair, studying music history, attending a writers retreat and working at the movie theatre. Denis was a dear friend to her and helped to ease some of the friction mothers have with their daughters at that age. He remained a trusting and loyal person in her life right up to the end.
When Kelsey's best friend moved to Vancouver their last year of high school (2009) Gloria graciously allowed Kelsey to come and do her graduating year at Kitsilano High School. Kelsey had the opportunity to spend more time with her dear Aunty Jo, whom she looked up to and loved very much.
After graduation, Kelsey spent time working on Salt Spring Island and then Victoria where she was able to create good memories getting to know her Uncle Evan and his wife Erin. She attended many concerts and festivals during that time and added to her tattoo collection.
Eventually Kelsey decided to return to Kelowna and attended the Human Service Worker program at Okanagan College. It was a very positive and enriching experience. She excelled and was the Valedictorian of Okanagan College in 2013.
Kelsey worked in Kelowna after graduating from Okanagan College, first at Willowbridge and then at the NOW Canada Women's Shelter. Eventually she decided to move to Vancouver and worked at the Downtown Eastside Women's Shelter. Sadly, a confluence of past trauma, a heart that was too open and trusting, and the tsunami of working on the front lines of the opioid crisis and covid caused her to spiral into a dark place. She fought to keep the bright light that she was shining through, but within 2 years it flickered out.
Missing you dear Kelsey … Love you to the moon and back.