Velma Mason was content to let her 100th birthday slip by last month with no more than a few hugs at dinner, but her friends at Rose Manor weren’t having it.
The independent living seniors home, tucked away on Rupert Terrace in Fairfield, is where Mason has spent the past 11 years, discovering an entirely new set of friends along the way.
“Practically every friend I’ve ever had since coming to Victoria has died. I’ve outlived them all,” she says, sitting gracefully in a red jacket and white scarf. “But I had so many flowers and 29 birthday cards for my 100th. God help us.”
Last week, fellow resident Ruby Attwood helped organize a horse-drawn carriage ride through Beacon Hill Park to mark Mason’s centennial. The idea was suggested by Mason’s good friend, Robert Rampling, who accompanied her for the ride in a top hat and suit on a sunny afternoon earlier this week.
“He’s young, he’s only about 85,” said Mason, laughing.
Attwood convinced many of Rose Manor’s residents to donate a loonie or twoonie to cover the cost of the horse and carriage, which was offered at a discounted rate by Tally Ho Sightseeing’s Larry Friedlander.
“Now we’re put on the spot to do something for Nedra Gillespie’s 104th birthday in a few weeks, and Phyllis Light’s 102nd, then we’re off the hook,” Attwood quipped.
“For the 104th, we’re going to get a rosebush and put in a little plaque and name it Nedra’s rosebush.”
There’s also 101-year-old Henry Wylie to think about come September, but this week, all the attention is firmly focused on Mason.
“I’ve never been on a horse and carriage ride. I’ve seen them going around in the city, and thought, ‘that looks like fun,'” she said.
When the carriage finally arrived, a few dozen seniors lined the brick driveway to see the couple off on their inaugural voyage through Beacon Hill Park.
“It’s just lovely,” said Attwood, as the horse carriage made its way onto the street. “I’m just so pleased it came together.”