When Tinney Davidson and her husband moved into their home along a well-traveled route to Highland Secondary School in Comox, BC, in 2007, Tinney never expected to forge a forever bond with the students of the school.
She had been sitting by the front lawn one morning as the students walked by to go to school, she had told CBS News, saying, “if [the kids] are looking in, I’ll wave to them.” So she did—and when they waved back, she figured she’d keep it up each morning.
A banner painting of Tinney Davidson, the lady who has inspired us all… (painting by the gigantic hearted Charlotte Hood-Tanner)
That started a heartwarming and adorable tradition that spanned nearly 12 years, with Davidson sitting to watch the children head to school and the students eagerly awaiting a chance to give her a smile and a “hello.”
While she loved the interactions, Tinney didn’t think that the students would react when word got out that she was moving into a retirement facility. So their final farewell the month before she was set to move out brought a smile from her that stretched from ear to ear—and warmed the hearts of social media viewers worldwide.
Davidson became a staple for hundreds of children and teens over the years, with Highland Secondary art teacher Charlotte Hood-Tanner explaining that the students often told her all about the lady they affectionately referred to as “grandma.”
She still loved getting to wave at them dearly, but age and circumstance were starting to catch up with her. Davidson is now 88 years old, and the death of her husband had left her caring for herself in the home in a way that wasn’t exactly practical.
Still, the students were devastated when they learned that there would no longer be that bright, smiling face waiting to greet them as they walked by. So with Hood-Tanner’s help, they devised a plan to give her a proper goodbye, creating posters and marching together past her home to wave and show her just how much they appreciated being there every day.
Every day, this elderly woman says “hello” to school kids as they pass by her house. When they found out their beloved neighbor was moving, hundreds of kids left school to give her one last “goodbye.” https://t.co/t4TrADCOhi pic.twitter.com/jGazeW7QLI
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 3, 2019
The students gathered in a massive crowd, numbering in the hundreds with hand-lettered signs telling her “thank you” and that they loved her. They carried construction paper hearts and flowers, then all congregated on her front lawn to say good-bye together.
Davidson was clearly moved by the display, explaining that she was shocked that so many had turned out for her.
“I was just shocked, again, that there are so many kids that wanted to say good-bye to me,” she said in an interview. “I’m overwhelmed by all of this.”
For the students, it was almost a given that they would do something like this. It’s not the first time they’ve shown her just how much her momentary connections and bright smiles have meant over the years; after surprising her with an assembly one year while making her Valentine’s Day cards another, they’ve made it clear that she means the world to all of them.
Of course, that appreciation goes both ways.
“Well, I think I’m just the luckiest lady alive, really and truly,” she said. “I have so much joy from them.”