(From left) Grandsons Tristen

Reporters’ notebooks: Favourite stories of the year

Memorable moments from a memorable 2015 on the West Shore

While I’ve only been working at the Gazette about six months, a number of stories come to mind when I think of my favourites.

There are so many fascinating people and places on the West Shore, it’s hard to narrow down the list. But two stand out in my mind for many different reasons.

Affectionately known around the Gazette office as the “snowman guy,” Dale Davies has rounded up his grandchildren to try and build the world’s largest snowman, made entirely by recycling the copper wire inside old strings of Christmas lights and electrical cords.

While I lost my grandfather at the age of five, Davies brings back a lot of childhood memories surrounding my grandmother, who passed away last year.

My brother and I spent many holiday seasons stringing up her Christmas lights, receiving regular electrical shocks and stepping on the odd bulb in the process. But we knew a cup of hot chocolate was waiting with a few tiny marshmallows. It was our holiday tradition.

When she passed away, she left me all of her Christmas decorations. Those old lights we used to hang were in the boxes. While half of them didn’t work, are serious fire hazards and the icicle lights still provided regular shocks, throwing them in the trash just seemed wrong.

Knowing that someone like Davies could take these lights, recycle them properly, and use the wire inside them to create new memories with his own grandchildren, well that just seems like a much better use than imagining them sitting in a landfill.

I hope his grandchildren will realize, when they’re older, how lucky they are and cherish those memories like I do.

While I have no children of my own, at least not yet anyways, I’m at that point in life where many close friends do.

I have friends that have been fortunate enough to have not one, but several, very healthy children. But I also have friends that have lost babies during pregnancy, have had premature babies very early in their pregnancy and I have friends that have spent more than 100 days at B.C. Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver.

It’s because of those experiences, experiences I can only really imagine, that make me a little hesitant to cover anything child related at Victoria General Hospital.

However, my first assignment at VGH was a happy occasion.

I met Langford resident Krista Rae Blomgren and her triplets at the neonatal intensive care unit’s (NICU) annual reunion picnic. While this was Blomgren’s first time attending the picnic, she is no stranger to the NICU. Her three girls were born just past the 33-week mark and almost two months shy of the average 40-week pregnancy.

The girls were fighters from the start, recalled Blomgren, and they all had their own unique personalities.

But unlike most new mothers, she couldn’t be with her babies 24 hours a day while they were in the NICU. Knowing that a team of nurses were watching over them made that separation a little easier for her.

And knowing a team like that is in place, when the need arises, provides a lot of comfort for a number of West Shore families.

Ten months old at the time of the picnic and doing great, the triplets were healthy and happy babies.

Blomgren plans on attending the event every year to celebrate the triplets’ achievements and milestones.

I started 2015 in Africa, touring remote villages, slums and a returnee camp in Uganda and South Sudan. But it is our local community that always inspires me and reminds me, especially at this time of year, of how truly privileged I am to call the West Shore home.

There’s no place like home, but it’s not the views and the landscape that make our community so incredible. It’s the people.

Look for next week’s article as another Gazette staffer shares their favourite stories.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

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