Laura Gale cel­e­brates 102nd birth­day with fam­ily and friends

A life­time of mem­o­ries held by south coast na­tive

Advertiser (Grand Falls) - - News - BY RANDY EDISON

Laura Gale has led a life of grat­i­tude, com­pas­sion and thank­ful­ness. Even at 102, noth­ing much has changed.

“Don’t hurt your­self now,” she joked Wed­nes­day morn­ing as her niece, Mon­ica Kear­ley, helped her from her bed at Carmelite House in Grand Fall­sWind­sor into a wheel­chair to join in birth­day cel­e­bra­tions.

Car­ing for oth­ers has been a pas­sion for the Ship Cove (St. Al­ban’s) na­tive.

Much of her work­ing life was spent car­ing for priests, although she did toil at the Stephenville mil­i­tary base un­til it closed.

Her niece said she still gets let­ters from friends she made there.

Once the base closed, Gale moved to Har­bour Bre­ton to care for the priest, and then on to St. Al­ban’s, where she also cared for the priest un­til re­tire­ment at 65.

“I worked for everybody,” she said of her time on the base, and af­ter. “I was do­ing the hard­est kind of work.”

Longevity ap­pears to be a ge­netic trait of her fam­ily. A grand­mother lived un­til 99; a grand­fa­ther un­til 92 and her sis­ters lived into their 90s.

Liv­ing to the ripe old age of 102 is one thing, but main­tain­ing health and a mem­ory is a whole dif­fer­ent mat­ter. Apart from a pro­ce­dure to place a syn­thetic vein in her leg at 90, Gale’s had rel­a­tively few health prob­lems and even re­bounded from that pro­ce­dure in weeks.

She still takes very lit­tle med­i­ca­tion and ac­cord­ing to the staff who work with her daily, her mem­o­ries and sense of hu­mour are like a breath of fresh air.

“She calls us all her guardian an­gels,” noted one staff mem­ber.

Among the many rec­ol­lec­tions she has of grow­ing up along Bay d’Espoir is the stir caused by a ti­dal wave that swept through the area in 1929 when she was still not quite yet a teen.

“There was an is­land in the bay off from the house and the wa­ter washed right over that,” she said. “There was a wed­ding and some­one thought the noise (from the wa­ter) was peo­ple danc­ing on the roof, but it was the chim­ney rum­bling.”

She headed home when she re­al­ized what was tak­ing place, jump­ing a fence along the way.

“When I got on the fence it was just like be­ing on a see-saw,” she told the Ad­ver­tiser. “When I got to mom’s house I met the ket­tle com­ing out through the door.”

“Mom took all the kids down to my grand­mother’s to be safe,” she con­tin­ued. “The tide came up and went right over where (grand­mother) was sit­ting, the wa­ter was right up to her neck.”

Her grand­mother did sur­vive the or­deal.

“It was like be­ing in a dream and you can’t get out,” she added.

Sev­eral houses along the shore­line were washed out to sea.

Fam­ily and well wish­ers were vis­it­ing on Wed­nes­day, July 12 to bring greet­ings, and Carmelite staff mem­bers were con­stantly drop­ping by for a quick hello as she was be­ing in­ter­viewed.

“I en­joys ev­ery day here,” Gale said of her liv­ing quar­ters. “The peo­ple look­ing af­ter you are the best. You ask for any­thing and they’ll get it for you, with a smile.”

Gale’s 102nd birth­day wasn’t promis­ing to be as ac­tive as some oth­ers. On her 99th she was treated to a ride in a horse buggy, and on her 101st she vis­ited the lo­cal salmon in­ter­pre­ta­tion cen­tre.

Stay­ing in was quite fine for her this year, how­ever, as she smiled and laughed her way through the quick vis­its and greet­ings.

While she hinted that a drop of rum would be en­joy­able on her spe­cial day, she was look­ing for­ward to what she de­scribed as “a lovely cake.”

“It al­most looks too good to eat,” she joked.

RANDY EDISON/THE AD­VER­TISER

Flow­ers and presents ar­rived through­out the morn­ing as well-wish­ers dropped by Carmelite House in Grand Falls-Wind­sor to join Laura Gale in cel­e­brat­ing her 102nd birth­day.

RANDY EDISON/THE AD­VER­TISER

Amelia Gard­ner, left, reads one of the many birth­day cards that ar­rived for Laura Gale, right. Also pic­tured is her niece, Mon­ica Kear­ley.

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