Calgary widow grieving loss of twin sister marks bittersweet 82nd birthday

It was a bittersweet birthday for 82-year-old Dorothy Vaughan.

Friends and family gathered outside her Calgary retirement home in McKenzie Towne to mark the occasion.

“I have the most wonderful friends and daughters,” Dorothy said.

Her daughter, Nina Vaughan, wanted to make the day extra special because the first time around, they couldn’t celebrate.

READ MORE: New COVID-19 case at Calgary’s McKenzie Towne care facility a ‘setback’ for families

Sidewalk celebration for Dorothy’s birthday.
Sidewalk celebration for Dorothy’s birthday. Jill Croteau/Global Calgary

“We wanted to give her a do-over after how badly her birthday turned out,” Nina said. “I wanted to bring a smile to her face.

“She’s been through a lot in the last six weeks.”

Dorothy wanted to celebrate with her twin sister Doreen. But Doreen died before their shared birthday.

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Twins Dorothy & Doreen
Twins Dorothy & Doreen. Courtesy: Nina Vaughan

She lived across the street at the McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre. She got sick from COVID-19.

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But weeks later, Dorothy also lost her husband, Lorne. He was also a resident at McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre.

Dorothy & Lorne Vaughan
Dorothy & Lorne Vaughan. Courtesy: NIna Vaughan

“My mother’s twin died on April 6. On May 6, I had a sidewalk celebration planned to distract her from the loss she suffered, and that morning we got the call to go say goodbye to my father,” Nina said.

“She missed her birthday and said goodbye to her husband of 59 years.”

Lorne Vaughan
Lorne Vaughan. Courtesy: Nina Vaughan

“It was hard for sure. He was sick for 20 years. It wasn’t the man I married,” Dorothy said.

“Parkinson’s is like watching somebody die by inches and every time you lose a part of him that you perceived to be him, you mourn.”

But through her immense grief she exudes strength.

READ MORE: Class action lawsuit filed against Revera for McKenzie Towne centre’s COVID-19 response

“She still wakes up everyday determined to be happy, which is amazing,” Nina said.

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“The resiliency is amazing. I don’t know that I would still be standing.”

Calgary police drive by Dorothy’s complex.
Calgary police drive by Dorothy’s complex. Jill Croteau/Global Calgary

On Friday, her loved ones gathered two storeys below Dorothy’s balcony and showered her with love.

Nina arranged for a bagpipe player to share music and also organized a small police motorcade.

There was also a clown and some miniature horses.

Miniature horses for Dorothy’s birthday.
Miniature horses for Dorothy’s birthday. Jill Croteau/Global Calgary

“She’s just a kind sweet generous soul. She deserves all this and more,” Nina said.

READ MORE: Grieving granddaughter exposes history of McKenzie Towne continuing care home

This was a moment for her to celebrate. She had champagne to toast, a birthday cupcake and about 200 birthday cards from loved ones who sent her well wishes from across the country.

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