Whether it’s patiently waiting to pay for groceries, to sit on Santa’s knee or to have your birthday recognized and celebrated in front of a crowded room at the Amica Mature Lifestyles senior’s retirement residence in Vancouver, being overlooked is rude.
Unless your name is Fran Thompson, you’re turning 100-years-old, you’re a huge fan of the Vancouver Canucks and everyone has a big surprise in store for you.
In that case, it’s all part of the plan.
A large group of residences recently gathered on the first Wednesday of January to celebrate all the birthdays of the month. Those in attendance were spread out on chairs and couches throughout a lobby mingling area of the senior’s home, 16 multi-coloured party balloons marking the occasion, everyone listening attentively to Chris on the microphone at the front.
First up was Ruth. Happy birthday. Then Fred. All the best. Alice was next. Elizabeth after her. Peter and Eva followed. Then it was Fran’s turn to be spotlighted for turning 100-years-old on January 1, 2012, but Chris moved on to Margaret.
Fran, as delightful an elderly lady as there’s ever been, didn’t raise a stink. I would have and will if some youngin’ forgets to give me credit when I turn a century old, but not Fran. She sat patiently waiting in a lime green blazer, hair done up like it was date night, smiling away.
Good things come to those who wait.
After Bernice, Dorothy, another Margate and Bob, it was finally Fran’s turn. In celebration of her special day, I brought the sweetest Canucks fan around a team autographed t-shirt and stick, on behalf of Canucks Sports & Entertainment.
We are, don’t forget, all Canucks.
The presentation and gifts caught Fran by complete surprise; she remained quiet and calm until being presented the stick. Then it was clear she means business.
Fran didn’t stop to admire the signatures from the 2011-12 Canucks, she immediately smacked the blade onto the ground and was ready to take a faceoff.
Fran loves her hockey. And her Canucks.
The team became the diamond of her eye when her nephew Chris Oddleifson was traded from Boston to Vancouver during the 1973-74 season. Oddleifson, the third captain in Canucks team history, played 406 games in Vancouver over eight seasons.
Even after Oddleifson retired in 1981, Fran never stopped cheering for her beloved Canucks.
Before her husband Gar passed away in 1998, the couple followed Vancouver religiously watching every game they could. They’d watch in silence, both concentrating on the Canucks pulling out a big win.
Even now, Fran, who worked at clothing company MacKay, Smith, & Blair Co. before retiring, prefers to watch the Canucks by herself.
Having others around is simply too distracting.
“Don’t bother phoning her during games because she won’t answer the phone, never has, never will, so forget it!” laughed Fran’s niece Darlene.
“I like to watch them by myself,” said Fran, “then I can concentrate.
“I never miss a game if I don’t have to.”
Especially not if Canucks forward Mason Raymond is playing.
“Do I have a favourite player? Oh yes, Mason Raymond,” smiled Fran, with a twinkle in her eye. “Oh, I just love that guy. He’s a good skater and he goes and bothers others, I just really like him.”
Seeing what played out last summer in the Stanley Cup Final to both Raymond and the Canucks, Fran was frank with her dislike of the Boston Bruins.
“I don’t think much of them,” she said matter-of-factly. “That was nasty what they did, I was sure glad that he was able to overcome this. He’s comeback good.”
Fran lived on her own up until a year-and-a-half ago when she thought it was time to move into a senior’s residence. Her room is bright, yet simple and after the Canucks stick is mounted on the well, she’ll have everything she needs in place.
The team-signed shirt, that’s staying with Fran.
“I’m going to put this on my back!”
Spoken like a true Canucks fan.