Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Happy Birthday Grandma, Happy Mothers’ Day and a Northern Parula

Grandma Devins was born on this day 115 years ago. It sounds unlikely (to me) that I could have spent 35 years of my life with someone who was born in 1896. I wrote a post on May 10, 2007 about Grandma’s 48th birthday birding party in 1944. She and her friends counted birds at the family farm near Aurora Ontario and her list was quite impressive. I have seen most of the birds she recorded that day, but the Northern Parula has eluded me as not many sightings are reported around here. I was at Ruthven Park this past weekend and Peter Thoem, who doing the census on the grounds that day, took a picture of a Northern Parula near the banks of the Grand River. He gave me directions and I headed off along a creek in search of Grandma’s bird. And I was not disappointed, although my photographs were the worst bird pictures of the year. I watched the bird flit and sing in the canopy for a good ten minutes. (Thanks Peter for allowing me to post your photo)
Happy Northern Parula Birthday Grandma!
My blurry but very meaningful picture of the singing N. Parula
My eldest brother has some of Grandma’s books and this week he sent me a copy of a letter found in one of them. Grandma treated a sick baby and 52 years later the mother sent this thank you note.

May 1986

Dear Dr. Devins,

Just a short note with your card. I often think of you from a long time back and as 
I saw your birthday was coming up and I do want to say “Happy Birthday” to you...
It is fifty two years ago this summer you were so good to us when our baby was so sick. 
I still remember how patient you were with me and he was so sick 
but you knew exactly what to do for him. 
He still has red hair...and has four children. One boy is married with two little girls...
We wish you all the best of health and happiness and thanks again for your kindness in 1934.

Sincerely W. and W. G.

Happy Birthday Grandma! After 115 years you really do live on. We can live on through the deeds we do and the people we love and care for in our life time.

Mothers’ Day is always May 10th in Mexico so I will wish my mom Happy Mothers’ Day again. She continues to invest in the lives of others around her and is enjoying improving health and strength. It was a year ago she had two surgeries for cancer and a course of chemotherapy afterward.

Spring Beauties
This is my most wonderful time of the year. The leaves are opening here and apple trees are beginning to bloom. The world is young and beautiful again and I am out and about as much as possible enjoying the season.


  1. You guys are fortunate to have such treasures -- as in words, even in the form of bird lists and cards from others.

  2. Peter Thoem6:29 pm GMT-4

    Consider the 200 year gift. It's the link we have through the grandparents we knew to reach back a hundred years and through our grandchildren to reach forward a hundred years.
    For my part I know I can reach back to 1880+/-, and through my new grandson and others to follow (?) to reach forward well into this century.

  3. You take after your grandmother with your interest in birds and your work in health care. She sounds like she was a very special person.

  4. In the mid 1980's I worked with a man named Cecil, who often talked to me about Dr. Devins. He said she was the reason one of his sons was alive and well. She was very highly regard by many.

  5. What a true treasure that generations of mothers take care of others and pass along the love and skills needed.


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