Calgary community comes together to make senior’s creative dream a reality after her passing

Click to play video: 'Calgary senior’s poetry dream realized posthumously'
Calgary senior’s poetry dream realized posthumously
WATCH: A collaboration between a 93-year-old poet, a determined teacher and a teen artist proved you're never too old to pursue your passions. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports on how a community has come together to help fulfill an elderly poet's dreams after her passing. – Nov 30, 2023

Florence Lowry spent her life raising kids and teaching but she also had a passion for creativity.

Jese Stovka, Lowry’s granddaughter, remembers her late grandmother as a master of everything.

“She was so creative.  Everything she did had flair and pizzazz. She was a teacher, a painter, a crafter, a  poet – all things creative,” said Stovka. “I think in the later years of her life is when she became the most creative. I’m sure she would’ve loved to have done that earlier, but I’m so glad that she got to pursue it.”

Florence was born in Treherne, Manitoba in 1929 and moved to Calgary and later to High River.

It was when pandemic restrictions kept her from leaving the Shalem Society for Senior Citizens Care that she finally decided it was time to take action.

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“It was very upsetting at first and scary and then one night I thought enough of this I’m going to get doing something,” said Lowry in an interview with Global News in November of 2022.

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Florence wrote a book of poems and and together with a Grade 12 student from Calgary Christian School next door, they worked on a final project with student Melissa Pike providing the illustrations.

“I was here to talk about her poems and get to know her more and to show her ideas that I had, ” Pike told Global News. “I learned about her poems and her writing. I learned that she made cards for residents.

It was Lowry’s dream to have the book of poems published but it wasn’t realized in her lifetime. On Dec. 8, 2022, she passed away at the age of 93.

Since her passing, the family has found entire books she had written that they never knew existed.

“She documented her whole life. We have an amazing binder. She catalogued everything and wrote little stories about all sorts of things,” said Stovka.

Now with the help of an art instructor at at Calgary Christian School and staff at Shalem, Lowry’s dream has come to fruition.

The book has been published and is available at the school and at Shalem Seniors Centre. It has become such a popular item, more copies have had to be ordered.

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“It was awesome. I had a lot of fun with it. It was very special. I will keep it forever,” said Pike. “Having this memory of her in a book that I contributed to it’s just cool.”

Dorothy de Vuyst, Shalem Society for Senior Citizens Care’s executive director, says the partnership with the school was special.

“It’s such a blessing for both the residents and youth to learn from each other and for the youth to understand and appreciate the wisdom and experience seniors have to offer,” said de Vuyst.

“One of the things we like to say here is that you’re never too old to pursue your dreams and having purpose is such an important part of life, no matter what age you are. We love to see seniors and residents come up with different ideas where they continue to contribute to society. It’s such a blessing.”

Lowry leaves behind a legacy of creativity and a reminder that we have limited time to pursue our passions.

“Don’t wait. Just do it,” said Stovka.  “You’ve got a community that will help you pull things through.”


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