Thursday, November 1, 2012

Oh how he loved her. A legacy of Gilbert J. Tolmie

He was a good man.

He left this world quietly last Friday on October 26th, 2012.

I haven't spoken much about it. In fact I thought it might be strange to say that I'm glad he's gone and maybe that's why. I don't mean that in an ill way, I loved him. I'm his granddaughter and his great-niece.

On January 21st, 2006, his heart was carried in the wind along the small waves of the Atlantic shoreline...her ashes scattered.

A broken shell waits for the tide.

My Grandma, Tressie Mae, was a hard-workin young mama -- cared for her family. Her husband - his brother - preferred bottle to bride and drank his cares. Waves crashed angry and two beautiful little boys washed ashore like sea glass softened. Broken bottles. Remnants of wartime.
Grandpa offered her a simple promise - I'll love you if you'll let me -- she said "okay". He picked them up and brought them home.

Rings & vows & kisses exchanged marked the humble beginning of a journey spanning 49 years - til death they did not part.

He was born in 1934. Five years later he witnessed family members and friends headed to a world at war to battle on foreign soil. Later on he'd enlist in the Air Force, willing himself to do the same if called upon. At a young age he learned a little bit about honor and sacrifice and doing what is right, even when it's hard.

Gilbert Joseph Tolmie (middle)

He loved his bride with a passion and a protection that I watched with little girl eyes. Over the years I observed them in bits and pieces. I read ocean-crossed letters between them and saw pictures and notions exchanged. Love declared in trinkets and treasures and words penned on paper signed. A few times, I saw them dance together, twirling -- holding and clinging close.

Grandma & Grandpa dancing at our wedding 9/4/04

It was never uncommon to be sitting with them at the dinner table and with a sly grin he'd say to her - "Tressie, why I oughta slap you across this table".
You have to laugh because it sounds terrifying. He'd never dare lay a hand on her in anger, it was his way of saying - "I love you - I've got you and - by the way - Julia Childs' got nothin on you babe." She understood his language. We understood it too.

He served 20 years in the Air Force, forging the patriotism that was ingrained young. Proud. Strong. He served our country.

In 1968 they added a ray of sunshine to our family. They named her Dawn.

The middle name of our "Ever dearest".

His legacy.

Grace found him in his final years. PEACE is the only word I have for that.

Grandpa, Thank you.

For your life. For your love. For your sacrifice.

There are so many contributions that you have made to this world. To our family. Your legacy will never be forgotten.

Your granddaughter,


This song was written by a friend of mine. It's the story of her own grandparents' love for each other but I've always felt it touched close to home...

Aslyn: Dear Wally

Alaska 1961
Gilbert Joseph Tolmie October 7, 1934 - October 26, 2012
Tressie Mae Tolmie April 24th, 1929 - January 21, 2006


  1. Celeste. This is INCREDIBLY beautiful. I just stumbled across it and I'm like-- five seconds from tears. What a gorgeous tribute, so poetically rendered. I see SO much of them both in you! :) (that first old pic of the two of them is just-- magnificent.) Did you change Ever's middle name to Dawn?

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful piece. Hope you and your sweet babies are well.

    1. Juliette! I just found this. I'm sorry, the blog has gotten a little dusty lately. Thanks for your sweet words! We did change change her name to Everlise Dawn, of course we still just call her Ever. I hope you and your sweet Violet are doing well too -- she is just a doll!!!