Friday, April 11, 2008

It's hard to believe that it has been a year...

It seems like only yesterday that Gramma was living with us still and yet a year has passed. While she is no longer with us in person, we often talk about the funny things she did or remember silly stories. Ryan has a little photo book of family members and there is a picture of Gramma in there too. She's always be an important part of our lives and she still makes me smile everytime I think of her.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Toronto Star Article on Gramma

Feisty Gramma had many fans - Granddaughter's blog described a 100-year-old who was eternally young at heart

May 17, 2007
Catherine Dunphy
obituary writer

The blog – and it is extraordinary – started a year ago January when Joanne Clemente told a friend another funny story about her grandmother. It was about the time Gramma filched popcorn from the bag of the woman in front of her in the movie line. That's it, the friend said, time to start writing down all these great stories.

And that was the beginning of

The relationship it details began in 2003 when Joanne, a newly minted MBA grad whose parents had moved to California, needed a place to live and so moved into the Thornhill condo of Billye Maver, her then 96-year-old grandmother, who had been widowed for 10 years.

"I thought it might not work," said Laura Culley, a friend of 50 years. "But they had an incredible relationship and it wasn't just a matter of duty with Joanne. (Billye's) friends here looked on with awe."

An avid bridge player, the de facto head of the condo's stitch 'n' bitch group (its proper and unused name was the Ladies Craft Group), Maver had always been a people person, a party person. Family photos show her hamming it up – posing model style on stairways with her adult son and his family with that trademark big, wide, mischievous grin.

She danced along to American Idol. Loved the Blue Jays and going to movies. Always watched The Bachelor because she preferred men under 50. (She refused to join an over-50 church group when she was almost 70 because she didn't want to hang around old people.) Loved reading trashy novels, the kind with Fabio on the cover.

Still told jokes, stories and talk sprinkled with salty "hells" and "damns" spoken in the accent of her native New Jersey. Lied about her age to the point that her friends were totally baffled when they discovered she was receiving an old-age pension. Told people what she thought of them. Drove until she was 93 and long past the point where she obeyed stop signs. "If there's no car coming, what's the point of stopping?" she told a startled Culley, her passenger at the time. Still sported a honey brown cap of hair, even at her 100th birthday party in December, courtesy of her hairdresser of 40 years.

No ordinary grandmother; no ordinary roommate.

Marc Clemente, Joanne's future husband, was understandably nervous when he met her. Gramma pronounced him okay, but added – loudly – that his moustache and goatee would have to go. Nevertheless, after they married in 2004, Marc, still with his facial hair, moved in with Gramma. "We were a package deal," his new wife said. "It wasn't an option."

"I was nervous but I adored Gramma," Marc said.

Their first Halloween together, Marc was a pirate and Gramma, giggling, put on a clown wig. "She was such a ham," said Joanne. "From then on we did crazy things. Every holiday we would dress up."

Flag hats for Canada Day, Italy shirts for the World Cup, Christmas cards featured the threesome in Santa hats, reindeer headgear and this past year, elaborate elf hats. The blog was full of photos of Gramma in her jerseys and headgear, with family and friends.

But Maver's health was declining and gradually the relationship changed. "There was a point where the role of grandparent and grandchild changed," Joanne said.

And that's when it started becoming beautiful.

"The way they looked after her, they way they treated my mother – they felt the same joy at seeing her the way you feel with your small kids when you come home from work. It was clearly a relationship of total enjoyment," said John, Maver's only child and Joanne's father. He and Joanne's mother and her two siblings all live in the States. "But it stems from my mother."

The eldest of six kids, Augusta Rummler was 11 when she unilaterally decided to call herself Billye after a revered grandmother. She went out to work after Grade 8 at Prudential Insurance, where she later met her husband, Jack, who was 10 years her junior and at one point, her employee. They married in 1943 when he was home on a three-day pass from the Army. Their son was born when she was 40 and in 1950 they moved to Thornhill.

On the surface she was the archetypal suburban housewife – a stalwart of the country club and of the Thornhill Presbyterian Church and its choir, member of the Scouting auxiliary, home and school association, a regular at all her son's teams games. But also fun, she was always fun. "She bought a pink shag bathmat for the bathroom, cut a foot off it because it was too big and made a hat out of it that she wore to church with her mink coat," recalled her son.

She had breast cancer and a mastectomy in 1960, prompting her and her husband to join the Thornhill branch of the Canadian Cancer Society, where she visited other women with the disease. She visited psychiatric and mentally ill patients, taking them on outings every two weeks after her own sister was institutionalized for the rest of her life after suffering postpartum depression.

She and Jack sold their house but stayed in Thornhill, moving into the Gazebo condominiums, where she enjoyed bridge and a strong sense of community. In fact, Marc and Joanne postponed buying a house because she was so happy there. But with a baby on the way (Ryan Jack is now 3 months old), they moved to a new home in Whitby this year that they had re-designed to accommodate Gramma.

Before leaving for work, Joanne gave Gramma photos of her caregiver, and of Gramma with the caregiver, so she wouldn't become confused. When they came home at night, they would prepare and feed her dinner, often singing "You are my –" and waiting for Gramma to supply the word "sunshine."

"The definition of a best friend is that both sides feel they are getting the best end of the deal and Joanne and Marc believe that they did," said John Maver. "They are an inspiration on how to enjoy the elderly as opposed to put up with the elderly."

Gramma was hospitalized on April 5 with pneumonia; she was 100 when she died on April 11. Joanne had posted photos of Gramma on Easter morning in rabbit ears, lying beside her newborn great-grandson. Then she posted the death notice. The response astonished her.

"I am just a random blogger from Nunavut who found this blog quite a while ago and have loved the stories you shared about your Grandma, wrote one reader. "I, who have never met Gramma, will miss her very much," said another. And: "She showed us that growing old does not mean old."

The blog has received more than 11,000 hits from everywhere from Wack Wack in the Philippines, to Thailand, Australia, Belgium, all over Canada and places like Augusta, Ga.

"It was just to share the stories we thought funny and we were always surprised that other people thought so too," said Joanne, who always signed her posting as A Proud Granddaughter.
"I won't add anything to the blog but I won't delete that one ever."

Thursday, April 12, 2007

It's hard to sum her up in a few words

Here is her obituary:
Maver, Augusta "Billye"
On Wednesday, April 11, 2007, Billye passed away peacefully in her sleep at the age of 100. Billye was the beloved wife of Jack; caring mother to John and his wife Diana; doting grandmother to John (Jill), Joanne (Marc) and Marilee (David); and loving great-grandmother to Hannah, Zoe, Andrew, Ella and Ryan. Billye's infectious laugh, feisty nature and compassion brightened many lives. Her positive personality, willingness to help and her ability to make you smile made her a force with which to be reckoned. She was youthful throughout her life and was deeply loved. Billye will be sadly missed by her family and her many friends. Enjoy more about her at

Billye's life will be celebrated at Thornhill Presbyterian Church, 271 Centre Street, Thornhill, on Saturday, April 21, 2007 at 1:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Canadian Cancer Society would be appreciated by the family.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Rest In Peace Gramma

Gramma passed away last night around 4 am or so in her sleep. While we are incredibly sad, we are happy that she passed away while comfortable and breathing well. Having these last few years with her has been one of the most amazing things in Marc's and my lives. She made us enjoy the little things and she was definitely a good sport. She made us realize that age is just a number and not something to define yourself by. She found the joy in the smallest things and she definitely loved to talk to everyone. She truly was a feisty, wonderful woman.

Rest in peace Gramma. We love you and miss you. We will always have you in our hearts.

Augusta "Billye" Maver December 20, 1906 - April 11, 2007

Monday, April 09, 2007

Happy Easter!!

So even though Gramma is in the hospital, the Easter Bunny still came to visit her.

Even when sleeping - she still kept the spirit alive. :)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Always something to say

Poor Gramma is in the hospital right now with pneumonia. (We are hoping for a speedy recovery - think good thoughts. ) Even when she is sick though some funny things happen. We were in the ER the first night and the speaker and call button for the nurses was behind her head.

Everytime there was a call for a nurse Gramma's speaker would go off. Gramma wasn't really paying attention, so always assumed they were talking to her.

Speaker: "Nurse to room A."
Gramma: "Yes, I definitely agree." :)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

You're so probably think this blog is about you... ;)

Gramma had a hair appointment today and we were getting her ready to go. Marc told her that she looked fantastic and without skipping a beat, she replied, "I look fantastic everyday!"

Yup no egos in our house. :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Marc was holding Ryan the other day and Gramma looked over and said, "Oh she's sleeping!" Marc corrected her and told Gramma that Ryan was a boy, to which Gramma responded, "It doesn't matter, they are still sleeping!"

She knows how to stay on point.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

We call her "The Enforcer"

I was telling Gramma how Ryan had peed on me when I changed his diaper and she agreed that it was no good. She looked over at him and said, "That's terrible! You don't pee on people."

I'm going to bring her into the room for all diaper changes so she can remind him of this fact.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Gramma with Ryan

It's been awhile since I posted and I will add more later.

Here's one of our favourite pictures.
Everytime she sees the baby she says, "Oh the baby! Oh he's a sweetie."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

More words of wisdom from Gramma to Ryan

She looked at him all lovingly and said, "Aw aren't you a cutie? You just stay quiet while I'm sleeping." It just wasn't what we expected to hear. :)

Gramma hears Ryan's name for the first time.

Marc and I decided what Ryan's name was going to be a long time ago and the only person we told was Gramma. The conversation didn't go quite as we had thought it would go though.

Me: Gramma, guess what we are going to name the baby?
Gramma: What?
Me: Ryan.
Gramma: Brian?
Me: No Gramma, RYAN.
Gramma: Brian?
Me: No R-Y-A-N.
Gramma: Oh Brian....
This went on for awhile, so finally we said "Gramma it is Ryan with an 'R'."
Gramma responded with "Oh Ryan!"

Me: "Yes, Ryan Jack Clemente!"

(Relieved and excited that she finally got it.)

Gramma's response?

She looked at us like we were nuts.

I have never laughed as hard as I did that night. So for months afterwards, Marc and I would refer to Ryan as "Giant Black" and laugh.

Gramma and Ryan are quite the pair!

Gramma met Ryan for the first time today and already you can tell that the two of them are going to cause a ruckus.

Here's the photographic proof...

Gramma wakes up to a surprise in bed.

Gramma: "Oh what a sweetie! I will try to kiss him!"

Ryan: "Oh no you don't!"
Gramma: "Oh just a little kiss."
Ryan: "I love it!"
Gramma: "We're going to have lots of fun together!"

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I see you....

We spent a fun filled day in the ER yesterday and all is well now. (Gramma is fine.) Knowing Gramma there had to be some fun while we were there too.

Once we were admitted to the ER, we were put into a slot with curtains on either side of us in one of the rooms. There were five other people all in a row next to us. Gramma for whatever reason really wanted to open the left curtain so everytime I turned around, she would try to whip the curtain back. I had to keep telling her to stop as there was a woman on the other side would would have been quite surprised to see the two of us peering in at her.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Woo hoo!

Gramma finally felt Gus kick for real. :) He finally kicked when Gramma had her hand on my stomach. Minor I know, but previously I had been faking the kicks so she could feel it. Her whole face lit right up.

I asked her if she was happy about the baby coming she said yes. She said that she was going to teach him everything she knows, but it might take a long time.

One would say that if you had 100 years on someone, it would indeed take a long time to tell them what you know. :)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Don't get in between Gramma and her streudel!

Last night our friend Annette brought us an apple streudel for dessert from a local bakery. It was delicious! The funniest was watching Gramma who loved it. Marc was helping her eat it by putting the bites on the fork but apparently, he was too slow as she kept grabbing the fork from his hand and putting it right in her mouth.

She had the biggest smile on her face when she had eaten it all.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Gramma knows best

We were giving Gramma her pills this morning and she was her usual chipper self.
As we were leaving the room she said, "It's a good thing I know what's good for me."

We asked her what she meant and she replied, "I need to go to sleep."

I wish all things were so easy.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

So Marc took Gramma to the hairdresser the other day and it was snowing out. Does he try to cover her hair from getting ruined? Nope he instead gets her to stick out her tongue so the two of them could try to catch snowflakes.

The two of them are quite a pair.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

She likes her options.

When Marc when in to give Gramma her pills yesterday morning - Marc went in as per usual and woke her up with a "Good Morning." She opened her eyes a crack and said, "Got anything good?"

She was clearly not going to wake up for anything less than the best. :)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Gramma has been tagged.

Gramma was tagged by Chelle and Foxy so I have to list 10 things that people may not know about her (five for each). I'm supposed to tag someone else next so the rest of you look out! :)

Top Ten for Gramma:

  1. Her real name is Augusta. She decided when she was 11 that she didn't like her name and was to be called Billye. (I don't know why she chose that name or spelling but it stuck.)
  2. She was born in New Jersey.
  3. She has outlived all of her five other siblings. (She is/was the oldest.)
  4. She has had the same hairdresser for 40 years.
  5. She loves chocolate.
  6. She loves to sleep.
  7. She is a people person and has always been chatty.
  8. She was addicted to crossword puzzles.
  9. She had her only son at the age of 40.
  10. She got married at the age of 37.

My dad posted these in comments, but I thought they were kind of neat so I am adding them to the post.

  1. Gramma used to throw dance parties in NYC and charge money.
  2. She worked at Prudential Insurance.
  3. She had a higher position than her husband and got paid way less!

Gramma as the next Roger and Ebert

Marc and Gramma were watching the movie Crank last night and I think the general consensus was that it wasn't the best film. This was reinforced when Marc asked Gramma what she thought of it and she said, "That wasn't very good." Marc - ever the optimist - tried to say that parts of it weren't that bad, but Gramma promptly cut him off and definitely said - "No - it was bad."

No thumbs up from her!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

I'll have mine and YOURS too.

We were eating dinner last night and Gramma chugged her water. Apparently, she was still thirsty as she looked around the table, noted that Marc still had some water in his glass, grabbed it and chugged it back too. Marc turned to her and said, "Gramma - that's my water." Gramma's response? "Yeah? Well, I just drank it."


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Cheese String

Marc and I were having some cheese string tonight as a snack and we gave one to Gramma. The way we eat it is to bite off the top and then peel additional pieces off. It was hysterical to watch Gramma peel each piece off. She was determined not to just bite off a bit at a time - rather she intently focused on doing it "our way."

Gramma could be the Purple Pieman from Porcupine Peak

The other morning when we were giving Gramma her pills she she must have thought that the apple sauce we mix her crushed pills with was pie as she was insistent that Marc also eat some "pie." Everytime I said something to her, she would cut me off and just ask for "pie" for Marc. I said I was going to go get some "pie" for Marc as she was being so stubborn. When Marc tried to go to the other room, Gramma told him to sit down on the bed next to her to wait for the pie to come. She was on a mission for the pie - she kept telling Marc the pie would come and he should just sit still. I eventually brought Marc a dish of plain applesauce and this seemed to appease her but I had to feed the "pie" to him just like Gramma.

Before falling asleep, she started asking for ice cream (for the à la mode I guess.) We didn't give in this time though.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Some family pictures with Gramma

Here is Gramma with one of her new ornaments. It has her grandkids on there as "little flakes." Guess that makes Gramma a big flake.
Marc, Gramma and I.
My dad and Gramma. (Clearly her son.)
My mom, dad, and Gramma.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Some pictures from the party

The birthday girl with Marc:
Some close family friends with my mom and Gramma.

My brother, nephew, dad, and Gramma.
Some of Gramma's closest friends:
Her certificates from the Queen, the Prime Minister, the Governor General, the Mayor, her MP, the Social Security Office etc. :)

We decorated the walls with pictures of Gramma with friends, family, with my grandfather and some fun shots of her throughout the ages.
Her birthday cake.
100 sweetheart roses from my brother and sister-in-law.

Gramma's party was a hit!

We had a great time yesterday at Gramma's party and she was in fine form. I would say over 100 people came by throughout the party to offer their well wishes. Gramma's nephew even drove up from Washington DC just for her party.

My father-in-law made an amazing slide show of picture that he had scanned from Gramma's old albums and we put up posters around the room with other pictures of friends, family, and my grandfather with Gramma. Marc found a copy of the Toronto Star from the day Gramma was born and blew it up so that all could see just how different times were 100 years ago.

I'll add some pictures later, but I was so touched to see the outpouring of love for Gramma at her party.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry Christmas!!

We had an eventful day at our house on Christmas morning. To get a few extra minutes of sleep before seeing what Santa brought, Gramma covered her eyes to block out any light.

Always one to stay in the spirit of the holiday, Gramma made sure we knew her heart was in the right spot.
Once we were all up, it was a flurry of excitement. Presents to unwrap, stockings to see. Marc found the perfect gift for Gramma.

Only he would think to get her this.
Yup, you guessed it. Gramma now can receive the appropriate recognition as the World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion.

Here she is practicing her champion pose:

"What? You don't believe I'm a champion? I will intimidate you with my stare and show you my award-winning move - The Gramma's Elbow."

All in all a good day. After all of the craziness of the morning and in order to rest up for the turkey dinner, Gramma took a wee nap.

Happy Holidays from all of us!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A couple of highlights from her birthday today.

I have to say that Gramma's friends are some of the sweetest people in the world. When Marc and I opened the door this morning there were balloons attached to the door with a note written on them saying "Happy 100th Birthday!" Keep in mind we leave for work pretty early so this was especially nice. Then later on, her friends dropped by with some tea and shortbread cookies to celebrate. Gramma also got some beautiful flowers from friends and family and lots of balloons. Marc brought the big smiley faced one home for her too. She thought it was the funniest thing when she saw them all together.

We went to the Keg for a nice steak dinner tonight and brought one of the "Happy 100" balloons with us. People kept coming up to her to say congratulations and commenting how they had never met someone her age. Everytime someone approached her, she got the biggest smile on her face.

All in all it was a great day!

Happy 100th Birthday Gramma!!!!

Happy 100th Birthday to Gramma! It's hard to believe that she is actually 100. She has seen the world go through tremendous change and is still around to talk about it. When she went to bed last night we told her to enjoy her last night as a 99 year old. She assured us she would.

Here is a picture of her as a little girl (it is the earliest I could find). She is the little girl on the left.
And then another one of our faves. :)

It has been quite a year here and I know that the next year will bring even more excitement for everyone. I can't wait to share it with Gramma. I also hope that I can have the same feisty attitude and spunk that she has when I am even close to her age.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Gramma - just a disguise for her real identity.

Yup, Gramma spends her days pretending to be a feisty old lady, but in reality she is Cookie Monster. The height is definitely the same.

What other evidence do I have to confirm this?

Yesterday, I was baking some cookies for Gramma's birthday party while Marc went to pick her up from the hairdresser. Their conversation proves her secret identity. ;)

In the car he asked her how many cookies she was going to eat when she came home. Gramma:"I'm going to have everything she's got."
Marc: "Gramma, she's made about 100 cookies!"
Gramma: "Well, then I am going to eat them ALL."
Marc: "I guess we'll have to get her to make a new batch."

The first words out of her mouth when she walked in the door (she may have had some coaching...) were: "It smells good in here, now give me a cookie."

See... Gramma = Cookie Monster.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

She's definitely not lacking in confidence!

I asked Gramma if she was excited about Gus coming and she said yes. I told her that he may look a bit wrinkly like she does and she said that she hoped he didn't. :)

I asked her if she thought she would be a good great-grandmother to him and she promptly responded with, "And how! I'm going to teach him lots of things."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

You can't pull one over on Gramma

Gramma was looking at my preggo belly the other night and after staring at it for awhile asked me if I had a baby in there. I told her yes, and she reached out to touch my tummy. Marc came over, lifted up his shirt to show his "belly" too and told Gramma he had a baby in there too. Gramma promptly responded, "No...that's just fat."

You have to laugh.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Some Christmas Fun

This comes courtesy of

It amuses me to no end.

Click below.


To Do

I reminded Gramma the other night that her birthday was coming up and that she was going to be 100.

Her one and only question was, "Do I have to do anything?" I responded that she just has to sit there and look pretty. She responded with, "Well that's pretty easy."


Thursday, November 30, 2006

Life in the Fast Lane

I asked Gramma if she was hungry for dinner yet and she replied with, "Naw, I'm too busy." (Keep in mind we were watching tv so she was really just sitting in her chair.)

Me: "Too busy? Doing what?"

Gramma: "Too busy doing nothing." And then she game me a wink and a smile.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A little holiday fun

So we took our picture for our Christmas cards tonight. Let's just say it was a fun process from start to finish.

And last but not least - the best elf of them all.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Sing! Sing! Sing!

I got home from work last night to find Gramma and one of the caregivers we have during the day, singing away. I just love hearing Gramma's little old lady voice sing songs. She is almost in tune but not quite.

It made my night. :)