Calgary woman surprises ailing father with a birthday drive-by show and shine

Avid car enthusiast Tim Mathieson wasn’t able to attend any car shows this year, so his daughter brought one to him

By Leanne Murray | September 27, 2022 |5:00 am

Tim Mathieson waves back to one of the attendees of Saturday’s drive-by show and shine.

Photo: Leanne Murray

There were plenty of smiles and waves but also a good amount of tears shed in Bowness on Saturday afternoon.

Tim Mathieson celebrated his 64th birthday in a very unique way — with a drive-by show and shine.

Mathieson has been a classic car enthusiast since he was 11 or 12 years old. He loves car shows and usually attends as many as he can.

However, a couple of years ago Mathieson’s health started to go downhill and he now suffers from chronic pain.

Declining health

“I’ve gone to hospitals and pain management and it’s not working,” Mathieson says.

“Your body can only go through so much before it doesn’t work anymore,” says his daughter, Nicole Coffin.

“Essentially, his spine is broken and his legs don’t work. His heart is failing and so now he has a pacemaker.”

Mathieson is a single father who raised Coffin and her brother on his own.

“My twin brother was killed in a car accident 10 years ago and so dealing with grief on top of that,” Coffin says, adding it’s hard to watch the strongest man she knows suffering.

“He’s quite young and it’s hard to watch him go.”

Nicole and Tim. Photo: Nicole Coffin

A special surprise

Coffin describes her dad as a good person who always gives back to the community, so she wanted to surprise him with something special for his birthday.

“This year, we were actually unable to attend any car shows just because he can’t walk or stand for very long,” Coffin says, adding she decided to bring a car show to him.

Coffin put the call out on social media, asking local classic car owners to gather in Bowness on Saturday afternoon for a drive-by show and shine past her dad’s house.

Since it was such a beautiful day, Coffin convinced her dad to have his party on the front lawn. His family and friends gathered to enjoy some snacks and drinks in the sunshine.

Little did Mathieson know, dozens of fellow classic car lovers were gathering in the parking lot of the nearby high school.

There were plenty of waves and smiles in Bowness on Saturday. Photo: Leanne Murray

Drive-by show and shine

Soon, the group started a procession — honking and waving as they each drove past Mathieson’s house.

He waved back and gave a thumbs up, occasionally wiping tears from his eyes.

“I don’t really see my dad cry very often so, you know, that got me,” says Coffin, who shed a few tears herself.

After driving past Mathieson’s home and looping back, many of the drive-by show and shine attendees stopped to meet and chat with him — a gesture Mathieson appreciated.

“My life’s coming really close to an end, so it was nice that they stopped by,” Mathieson said through tears.

“To have this big crew drop down and stop, it’s really nice.”

Tim takes a ride in a sidecar. Photo: Nicole Coffin

Passion and love

Mathieson was also taken for a ride in a sidecar of one of the motorcycles and a Ford Model A.

“[There’s] nothing like it,” Mathieson says of the Model A, but admits Chevrolets are his number one.

“I love all cars but I’m a big fan of Chevys. I used to have some old ‘49 Chev pickups that I wish I would have finished but my health turned sideways.”

Mathieson says he sold his pickup to his friend’s son, who has taken over the restoration.

“It’s a passion. You’ll never get your money out of it… It’s just a passion and love. It’s like art. You might not get your money back, but you just love doing what you do. It’s very, very rewarding.”

Community coming together

Coffin is thankful that the turnout was so great for her dad’s birthday.

“I think he was happy and surprised. He definitely got all teary-eyed,” Coffin says, adding it was nice to see the car community come together for the man she loves so much.

“I appreciate their effort and sharing their classics with us and all their hard work. It’s definitely a community to be a part of. They really show up when you need them. A community that can be so big yet so small at the same time. I’m blown away.”

Mathieson says his daughter’s surprise was fantastic, amazing, and exciting.

“Bowness is quite a community,” he adds. 

Tim claps for a Ford Model A, which he would later take a ride in. Photo: Leanne Murray

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Leanne Murray

Leanne is a Calgary Citizen reporter.

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