ST. PETER’S: Volunteers and staff at the Richmond Villa tried to make a special milestone even more so last week.
Vera Doucette and Delores Boudreau were at the long-term care facility on April 24 with signs, flowers, music, and well-wishes for resident Emma Boucher, who was celebrating her 102nd birthday.
Because long-term care facilities across Nova Scotia have been closed to the public after the province announced measures to stem the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus, Doucette and Boudreau were forced to conduct their celebration outside while Boucher looked on from inside.
Doucette said she first met Boucher on the day her husband, who was also a resident of the Richmond Villa, passed away.
“She’s a super lady and she’s very religious,” Doucette noted. “She’s very interesting, she’s very kind and she’s very considerate.
“Every day when I come, she gets so excited and her hands are shaking. She’s just so happy to see people.”
Boucher’s daughters planned to celebrate with their mother at the Richmond Villa, but with travel restrictions, they were unable to fly from Calgary.
Born April 24, 1918, in West Arichat, Boucher was one of three children. After completing high school, she continued her studies and earned her teacher’s license. Starting at a salary of $350 annually, Boucher taught at the Acadiaville school (now part of the Acadiaville Community Centre) in West Arichat and later in Larry’s River.
When Cornelius Boucher proposed marriage, Emma responded with “buy me a house and then come back and ask me,” according to Doucette. He did just that and they were married on July 27, 1942. They settled in their home in Arichat and had three daughters, Emily, who died in infancy, as well as Betty Ann McCulloch and well-known musician Cornelia Sutherland, who both live in Calgary.
Boucher was a great seamstress and also spent hours working in her garden. She enjoyed camping and ski-doo rides. In addition to being one of the founding members of the St. Ann’s Ladies Auxiliary and a lifetime member of the Notre Dame de l’Assomption CWL, she taught Catechism for many years.
Once provincial restrictions have been lifted after confirmed cases of COVID-19 drop dramatically, Doucette and her husband promise to take Boucher on a drive to her native Isle Madame.
“When someone from Isle Madame comes over, she’s ecstatic,” Doucette recalled.
Arichat resident Delores Boudreau, who’s known Boucher her whole life, noted that she lived through the deadly Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918-1919 which killed 33 people in Isle Madame.
“She does [have memories of that], she just mentions that she lived through that, she doesn’t ponder on it,” Doucette said.
Some of Boucher’s fondest memories are of the many musicians who would gather at their home and fill it with beautiful sounds, Doucette said.
In addition to greetings, last week Doucette and Boudreau were able to get Nova Scotia Country Music Hall of Famer Robert Bouchard, and multi-talented musician Dennis “Nick the Pick” Boudreau to play a few tunes outside her window.
In 1971, when the Bouchers sold the funeral home, they moved to West Arichat and operated a bed and breakfast for four years. In 2018 they moved to the Richmond Villa and Emma lost the love of her life when Cornelius passed at the age of 102. By that time, they had been married for 76 years.
At 102 years of age, Doucette said Emma’s life at the Richmond Villa continues to be filled with visits from her many friends, near and far. She attends Mass regularly and prays daily. Boucher’s greatest joy is daily telephone calls from her daughters.
When asked to what she attributes her longevity, Boucher added in her own words, “a happy life.”