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Friday December 21, 2012

Anita Braithwaite

Wife, grandmother, classy, quirky and curious woman, a wonderful companion. Born June 11, 1932, in Crynant, Wales, died Oct. 21, 2012, in Burlington, Ont., of complications from surgery, at 80.

Anita was a proud Welsh woman who once phoned the CBC to complain about the fuss they made over St. Patrick's Day while virtually ignoring St. David's Day. She taught Ohio State University's glee club how to sing in Welsh.

According to Anita, she was an enormous baby and a bit of a brat. Her first memory was the smell of orange blossoms and peonies. When she was a child, she and her friends created the adventurers club. To join you had to be able to climb up and down a tree in the count of 10. She believed in fairies, pixies and magic powder.

Her favourite story of the Second World War was how her father stayed in bed when the air raid sirens sounded, while she and her mother hid under the stairs until the all-clear signal. One night, bombs dropped nearby, shaking the house. She said she had never seen her father move so fast.

At Dr. Williams School for Young Ladies she tasted her first banana and caused complete chaos one April Fool's Day by hiding one of everyone's shoes and turning the water off.

After training as a dietitian, Anita sailed to Canada with her friend Marjorie. The trip was Marjorie's solution to an argument with her boyfriend. They landed in Quebec City and caught the bus to Vancouver, spending five nights on the bus, washing in the restrooms of bus stations and trying not to spend more than 25 cents per day on food.

It was in Vancouver that she met her husband of 55 years, Keith. They had four daughters and seven grandchildren. Sundays were spent with Welsh choir music blasting, roast beef and Yorkshire puddings cooking and Anita, dressed for dinner, enjoying a sherry. Summers were spent piling into the family's Volkswagen Beetle and heading to the beach.

Anita was sweet, welcoming, merry and beautiful. She made you feel like you were the only one in the whole world. Her laugh was infectious. She loved hugs and could make you believe anything was possible. Anita had the most amazing smile, which would make her eyes sparkle and light up any room. She created family for anyone who stepped across her doorstep.

Her life was not perfect. Like all of us, Anita had her challenges. For her, they became opportunities for her family to learn about themselves and decide how to show up in the world.

Her advice to her grandchildren was to be honest, work harder than their grandmother, get along with people, believe in God and have a sense of humour.

In her final days, she wanted her family and friends to know how much she loved them, how she would always love them and she wanted that love to carry each of them through.

Alison Braithwaite is Anita's daughter.

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