Connie Elford lived precisely in each moment and took the time to really appreciate what was beautiful or unusual. Where others saw the norm, Connie always experienced the exceptional. Her energy and enthusiasm for so many things could appear anywhere at any time; in a supermarket line-up she’d suddenly say, “Aw, a baby!” Connie loved children, and they loved her ability to join their games and laughter whenever they visited. The joy of simple things such as the sight of a bird in her garden could distract her from whatever conversation was happening at the time. Her enthusiasm and love for life could also been seen in her relationships. She married her soulmate Clif on Valentine’s Day and such was their connection, they renewed their vows three times over the course of the next thirty-two years.
Over the years, Connie and Clif explored and experienced the joys of travel together. During their marriage, they travelled yearly to their favourite location, Paris France.
Connie not only liked to see the sights, she liked to experience different places with all senses on full throttle; the aroma of Parisian bakeries; the crash of waves on a secluded beach at sunrise; the grit of sand between her toes and the taste of foreign foods.
In 2013, Connie and Clif’s life changed when Connie was diagnosed with cancer. After a five year, bravely fought battle, Connie became a resident at McNally House. While trying to adjust to their new reality, Clif and Connie found comfort in their conversations with Arthur Loik, the Psycho-spiritual Clinician. Connie’s keen wit and sense of humour came through in many of their sessions and laughter could often be heard coming from her room. It was during one of these conversations that Connie revealed she was an avid gardener. She loved flowers of all descriptions; Clif reminisced that she would go “gaga over a bunch of dandelions”. A few days into her stay, Connie reflected that her last days would be spent in winter, with no flowers in the ground or leaves on the trees. She remarked to staff that she wished she could see just one more spring. With this wish in mind, staff and volunteers leaped into action to decorate Connie’s room with potted plants; a bird call machine; flower decals on the wall and fresh flowers in vases, pots of ferns and even a water feature. A spring garden was created and Connie’s smile lit up the room.
After renewing their vows on their thirty-second wedding anniversary at McNally House, Connie passed away the following day. She was fifty-nine years old and leaves behind a lasting legacy of living life to its fullest. The fall before Connie died, she and Clif had rented an apartment for a month in Paris. Knowing it would be her last trip, they welcomed visitors to join them. After her death, Clif once again returned to Paris and scattered a tiny amount of Connie’s ashes in the Luxembourg Gardens. He continues to leave a dusting of her ashes at each of the stops he makes on his various travels. These places are marked on a wall map in his home to commemorate their passion for travel as couple.
In the book “It’s Never Too Late to Have a Happy Childhood”, author Bruce Williamson writes: “Walk in the rain, jump in mud puddles; collect rocks, rainbows and roses; smell flowers; build sandcastles; say hello to everyone; go barefoot; go on adventures; act silly; be excited about everything. Hold hands, hug and kiss, dance, laugh, and cry for the health of it. And do anything else that brings more happiness, celebration, love, joy, spontaneity, passion, beauty, peace and life-energy to this planet.” This is how Connie chose to live.