Unopened pickle jars from Pamela Anderson's late great-aunt inspire Victorians
VICTORIA -- This morning – like every morning – I had a cup of coffee and was greeted by a jar in the back of my fridge. The jar of pickled asparagus has sat, unopened, for almost a decade. When I wondered why I was keeping it, I discovered I wasn't the only one.
"I couldn't bring myself to open them," Eileen says, while placing two jars on her kitchen counter. She's kept the pair in her fridge for seven years. One contains pickled cucumbers, the other, pickled watermelon. "They are tart and crisp and sour and spicy," Eileen explains, before smiling. "Really fabulous."
Almost as fabulous as the woman who made them, Eileen's late mom, Vie. I first interviewed – the then 86-year-old – more than 10 years ago.
"I'm like a crow! I love jewelry," Vie said back then, while wearing a typically bright and sparkling outfit. "Not an old crow, just a crow!"
Vie's pickles were as decorated as her outfits. Her fridge featured the latest batch of first place ribbons she'd won for her pickles at the Saanich Fair. Vie also told me her famous great-niece was a fan of her pickles, before showing me a picture of Pamela Anderson posing with a jar in each hand.
We first introduced Vie to local and national TV audiences as Pam's 'Great Auntie Vie'. But, after producing a series of stories – ranging from her dynamic style to traditional baking to irrepressible dancing – Vie seemed to become a beloved aunt to all who needed a smile.
"That's what you got to do in this world – brighten it up!" Vie told me, with an infectious smile. "The more sparkles the better!"
Back to the pickles – local author Cathy Converse says she left one of Vie's jars in her fridge for two years. Although it's since been opened, Cathy's kept the jar.
"Every time I opened the fridge door, I think, 'Vie!'" Cathy recalls. "There she is with all her vivaciousness and joy for living!"
Cathy wrote Vie's biography/cookbook, A Life of Pickles and Pearls. It chronicles how, despite experiencing an impoverished childhood and enduring many obstacles, Vie manifested an abundance of positivity.
"She said, 'Never look back,'" Cathy recalls with a smile. "'Always look forward because the next best thing might be right around the corner!'"
Back at Eileen's house, Vie's daughter says her pickle jars remind her to love family and live life to the fullest.
"She inspired me to live in the moment," Eileen says. "That was the really big thing".
As for my jar, I didn't consider why I kept it until last week, when I ran into a viewer while searching for a story. She told me how much she appreciated seeing Vie on TV and that remembering her made her feel joyful.
I knew what she meant because that morning – like every morning – I opened my fridge and was greeted by a jolt of joy.