In a bid to support her grandmother in long-term care, a devoted granddaughter has turned small business owner — coming up with a novel way to ensure her “Baba’s” needs are taken care of in her golden years.
“My grandma’s given me everything I’ve ever needed my whole life, so I’m more than happy to do whatever I can to support her in any way I can,” said Joni Cassidy.
Her 95-year-old grandmother and namesake Joan has been in long-term care for three years. Cassidy says she feels lucky that the staff and level of care is excellent, acknowledging that many have not been so fortunate during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the costs have been adding up and living expenses take up a majority of her pension.
“It’s more than what I pay a month for rent. We had to sell her house to help with paying and it’s been difficult,” she adds.
Last summer, Cassidy took to Instagram to share some of her Baba’s vintage items with collectors and enthusiasts as a way to make up the difference and ensure her beloved grandmother wouldn’t be left wanting for anything.
“Because she had a whole house full of antiques and collectables … I decided to start selling some of them to invest back into her current healthcare,” explains Cassidy.
The shop is called How Time Flies Vintage — named for a phrase oft-repeated by Baba.
Baba’s life, travels and retirement
Joan Cassidy was passionate about travelling, visiting almost every corner of world with her husband Bill, a warrant officer for the Royal Canadian Air Force.
After Bill passed away in 1990, Joan continued travelling for over 25 years, only slowing down her wanderlust lifestyle at age 89, when her health would no longer allow it.
“She’s been to many many places all over the world. China, Japan, India, Romania, Croatia, Portugal, Mexico, Spain, Africa, Germany — you name it, she’s probably been there,” said Cassidy.
Along the way, Joan picked up several souvenirs and collectables — everything from jewelry to crockery — amassing an enviable, eclectic collection over several decades.
Cassidy carefully picks a few select items from the collection to post on the Instagram shop weekly.
She says her grandmother is thrilled that items from her collection are getting a new lease on life and making other people happy, but that joy is tempered with a bit of heartache.
“She’s happy and … there’s also a little bit of sadness too, because you realize you’re at a point in life where you have to let go,” sid Cassidy. “But she’s very excited that her items have found new homes and they’re getting to travel around when she’s not able to anymore.”
Instagram stories and successes
Since its launch last summer, Cassidy says the store has done exceptionally well, exceeding her expectations.
“It’s been great, I’ve had great success with it. So many people are excited about it, they love hearing about Baba,” she said. “It’s nice to see [the items] going to people that care about the whole concept and supporting everyone.”
Along with helping support Joan’s care, the page is a tribute to a fascinating and trailblazing woman, where Cassidy shares old photos, video clips and stories of her Baba’s life.
Among other pursuits, Joan dealt in antiques in the 1940s, had her two sons in the ’50s, designed and built her own home with her husband in the ’60s and was the only female steel buyer for Stephen Adamson in the ’70s and early ’80s.
“She was the only female … with a bunch of men which is amazing for that time, she really enjoyed it. She loved giving them a little bit of hell, being one of the only women,” said Cassidy. “She retired in the ’80s to spend more time with us [her young grandchildren] growing up.”
Cassidy says the stories she shares on the Instagram shop allow people to connect more personally with the project and it’s become a space for them share happy family memories.
“It’s really great to connect with people on this level,” she said. “And it’s kind of opened up a doorway for people to tell their stories and write and tell me the odd thing that they’ve thought of in regards to their own grandparents or grandmother, which is really nice.”
Beyond sharing vintage collectables and fond memories while helping in Joan’s care, the page’s message is also one of respect and giving back to our elders.
“I just think it’s really important. They’ve lived their whole life…if anyone deserves it more, it’s the elderly,” said Cassidy. “They’ve given all they had, they’ve created a way for us, they’ve taught us and I just feel it’s really important to stand by them when they need it most.”