Laura Gale celebrates 102nd birthday with family and friends
A lifetime of memories held by south coast native
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.
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.
Amelia Gardner, left, reads one of the many birthday cards that arrived for Laura Gale, right. Also pictured is her niece, Monica Kearley.