Tuesday, March 19th, 2013 - Mrs. Flora Thibodeau: Congratulations on One Hundred and Twelfth Birthday
Mrs. Flora Thibodeau
Congratulations on One-Hundred-and-Twelfth Birthday
Hon. Rose-May Poirier: Honourable senators, for the third year in a row, I have the pleasure of sharing with you a bit of information on the oldest living Canadian born in Canada. Madame Flora Thibodeau, of Rogersville, New Brunswick, will be 112 years old tomorrow. What remains so remarkable about this fantastic lady is that she still lives alone in her own home and receives only around 10 hours of in-home care per day.
Madame Thibodeau is in relatively good health despite her failing eyesight. Although she can no longer watch television, she still listens to the radio to stay informed about current events. She walks with the help of a walker, and nobody had better say anything about a home to her because she does not want to hear about it.
Madame Thibodeau still loves company and many people often drop in to chat with her. Speaking with her is like hearing a living history book. For those honourable senators who were not here last year, I will bring them up to date on some of the stories.
She remembers the first of many things becoming part of our lives, as well as many important events that occurred in the past 112 years. To name a few: the first automobile rumbling down the streets in Rogersville, the first toilet, the bathtub, refrigerator, telephone, TV, let alone computers and microwaves to enter our homes. She also remembers important events such as the First and Second World Wars and the sinking of the Titanic in the North Atlantic.
Madame Thibodeau had seven children, six of whom are still living, now aged 71 to 83. The one who lives closest to her is in Moncton. Last year, I had the honour of sharing a meal with her, members of her family and the Premier of New Brunswick, the Honourable David Alward, on the occasion of her birthday. Many media representatives were there too.
She was honoured and very surprised when the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, called her to chat and wish her a happy birthday.
Flora Thibodeau is an inspiration to us all. In the days when women had to struggle to find their place, she never gave up. She was a teacher from the age of 18 to 24; had a grocery store in her own home, then replaced it with a second-hand store when her husband died; and was the first woman to manage the local Caisse populaire branch. She also was a telephone operator and worked at the local co-op for many years.
Madame Thibodeau's husband died when he was 41. Alone, she raised her children, who were between one and three years of age, on just five dollars per child per month, which was the family allowance at the time. She was a very good mother and quite a career woman too.
Madame Thibodeau shared with me that she had no magic secret to having a long healthy life. She has always eaten what she wanted and tried to stay active. She is very independent and was not scared of working hard to make sure her family was well taken care of. Her abundance of knowledge, sharp wit, dry sense of humour and zest for life allow her to still be a contributing member of her community with the young and old alike who visit her.
Honourable senators, please join me in wishing this wonderful woman, Flora Thibodeau, all the best on her 112th birthday. Madame Thibodeau, I hope to be back next year to celebrate your 113th birthday with you.