Teresa, a resident of Tapestry at Wesbrook Village, is one of our company’s Ambassadors – volunteer community spokespeople who are pleased to share what they love about their life and living at Tapestry. We are very pleased to share Teresa’s story in print and video. Like all of our residents, Teresa inspires us with her wisdom, passion and joy. She reminds us that our life’s journey is a series of ups and downs, but what matters most, is that we enjoy the ride and wherever it may take us.
When Teresa was 12 and living a carefree life with her family in New York City, she fractured her knee, requiring that she spend many months with limited mobility. A rambunctious young girl with energy to spare, Teresa’s family gave her art supplies to keep her entertained as she recovered from her injury.
Teresa recalls sitting in her chair and spending many hours drawing and painting. She was soon lost in the beauty of creation and enjoying the serenity of her artistic pursuits. It was a love born from necessity and one that established a life-long passion for Teresa.
“I have always dealt with stressful situations with the calmness of art,” says Teresa, reflecting on her days as a young artist. “I spent many very happy hours creating art.”
Art has always been an essential thread woven through Teresa’s colourful life. She was born and raised in Mexico City enjoying the support of an extended family and inheriting her love of art from her grandfather and mother who also painted. In the 1950s, her family moved to bustling New York City, a four-year stay that she describes as simply magical.
After returning to Mexico City, Teresa travelled to Europe at 19, and met an “astonishingly handsome” cruise ship officer, whom she fell in love with “instantly”, marrying him soon after. Due to her husband’s job, they lived in five different countries over 25 years while raising four beautiful daughters. Throughout her travels, with ups and downs, joys and tribulations, art remained a constant passion and pleasure.
“Art is something that is always with me…it’s just always there,” says Teresa. “It so empowering to make something out of nothing. You start the canvas and it tells you how to continue.”
As with her art, life went on for Teresa in different colours and textures. After losing her husband at a young age, Teresa followed her daughters to Canada to start a new life. She completed a master’s degree in social work at the University of Toronto and specialized in psychosocial oncology. Working for Cancer Care Ontario, Teresa spent many years helping individuals navigate their cancer diagnosis and supported them through their journey, often using art therapy to build resilience and positivity.
Upon retirement from Cancer Care Ontario, Teresa returned to academic studies to obtain a visual arts degree from York University, while opening an art gallery. She was invited to teach social work at Ryerson University in Toronto and co-authored a book on family mediation published by the National University of Mexico. She retired at 80 deciding to make a major life change.
“It was a very hard decision to sell my house, dispose of everything I owned and move to a small apartment,” says Teresa, referring to her decision to move from northern Ontario into Tapestry at Wesbrook Village in Vancouver.
“And I never thought I would be happy….but I am…I’m very happy. I’m happier than I ever thought I would be at Tapestry.”
For Teresa, happiness means living independently, visiting with friends and family, continuing to pursue her artistic passions and sharing her creativity with other residents. Tapestry has encouraged Teresa with every brush stroke, even asking her to teach art to residents interested in exploring their own creative potential.
“The art classes for residents have been a great success,” says Teresa. “People that have never drawn or painted before have joined the class and are succeeding. It is just marvelous. I love seeing people happy and satisfied – and sometimes even astonished by what they create.”
Teresa is never surprised about the joy that art brings and the constancy it provides through the roller coaster we call life. As Teresa says, when everything has changed, what is left is art.
“And art makes life better, “ she says, her bright eyes twinkling. “Art… I can’t live without it.”