She was known simply as "Nana."
In Whistler, where most kids don't have grandparents living nearby, Lil Goldsmid was "everyone's Grandma."
"Nana took that place in the kids' hearts," said Susan Christopher, Grade 1 teacher at Myrtle Philip Community School, where Lil has been reading to the kids once a week for almost 20 years.
It began when Lil's first granddaughter Lonnie Wake was in Grade 1, and carried on for all the other Whistler kids over the years.
"The kids loved Nana... She always had a way of just making everybody feel special," said Christopher.
"Nana always had a story or two to tell about her garden or making Mr. Goldsmid his lunch or playing cribbage with him. Nana adored Howard and her eyes would sparkle when she talked about him."
Word would spread quickly through the school when Lil was on the way.
"Everybody would be like, 'Yay, Nana's coming!'" said 10-year-old Elle Johnston. "She was so sweet to everybody."
And just as quickly the somber news spread this weekend that Lil had died on Friday, Sept. 27. She was 90 years old.
She hadn't been herself for about six months — a valve in her heart wasn't working as it should.
The end was fast.
Her loss, however, will linger across Whistler's generations.
A voracious reader herself with a steel-trap memory, when Lil wasn't reading to the kids, she would be at Steve Bayly's house, newspaper in hand.
"She would come and read the Pique to me with (her husband) Howard and we would debate the issues that were in the paper," said Bayly with fondness.
Bayly has been battling a degenerative eye disease for years.
"She'd keep me up to date on all the goings on of the town."
The reminders are stark this week, and painful.
The cheeky "Nana G" vanity plate on her car, the knick-knacks dotted around the Goldsmid's welcoming home where the fire burns chasing away the chilly rain outside yet unable to warm the heavy hearts within.
Lil's Diamond Jubilee medal lies in its official maroon box on the sideboard, her Citizen of the Year plaque hangs by the door. These are the tangible reminders of what Lil has meant to Whistler — her charitable work with Whistler Community Services Society and the food bank, her work raising funds for the library by repurposing hotel flower bulbs and selling them, her unexpected treats for people she didn't know — construction workers, road workers, the hotel workers where she would pick up her free copy of the Globe and Mail every day. It wouldn't take long for Lil to get to know your name.
"She didn't shine 'til she came to Whistler," said Howard, her husband of 66 years. She found her place in the mountains when we first came in 1967 and when they moved permanently in the 80s Lil began to leave her indelible stamp.
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