Diana and Caroline had a special bond that seemed to grow with time.
“Considering we lived hundreds of miles apart and I was five years older, I think it’s wonderful that we were able to maintain our relationship,” says Diana. “Caroline was such a lovely person.”
Caroline Shawyer passed away in 2020 at the age of 81. Her cousin, Diana Bacon, is still searching for the words to describe a woman who was both bursting with energy and effortlessly calm – who was an active member of her community, yet fiercely private and unassuming.
In fact, Diana was unaware of her cousin’s long-time support of Sinai Health, including a very generous legacy gift to support the hospital’s most critical needs. While she doesn’t know for certain what motivated Caroline’s giving, Diana believes it was most likely sparked by the exceptional care her mother received.
For 35 years, Caroline taught kindergarten and Grade 1 in some of Toronto’s most underserved communities. She cared deeply about her students, always going above and beyond to provide additional teaching time and paying for extra classroom supplies herself.
“Caroline was a very talented and kind teacher,” recalls a former colleague. “She never shied away from taking her students on exciting field trips to the zoo, theatre or Cullen Gardens.”
Her relentless energy as a teacher translated into a seemingly endless list of talents, from painting to skiing to playing the piano. Her passions also included the history of her hometown, an interest that would have been piqued this year as Mount Sinai Hospital celebrates its centennial.
“Oh, she would have loved that,” affirms Diana. “We would go on long walks in Toronto and she would tell me all sorts of stories about its history. But she also cared about life today, and in the future.”
It’s especially fitting, then, that Caroline’s legacy gift will both honour the past and help fuel the next 100 years of life-changing care, research and innovation.
She left an indelible mark on her beloved city and all who knew her, including her favourite cousin.
While sorting through old family photos, Diana pauses when she comes upon an image of Caroline’s graduation from the University of Toronto. She hasn’t seen the photo for some time and smiles.
“You know, Caroline was taller. But she’ll always be my little cousin.”