Thrives on soli­tude

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE -

They may have a point. Per­haps, at 89, it’s time for her to let her fam­ily take care of her.

No fear of hard work

Mind you, Hussey has no fear of hard work, at­tribut­ing her long life to “ hav­ing courage enough to tackle any­thing.”

Hussey was born in Hibbs Cove and re­ceived her early ed­u­ca­tion at the one-room school. Her teach­ers were Maggie Mor­gan and later Phoebe Mor­gan, both from Blow-Me-Down, Port de Grave.

Hussey’s text­books were the Royal Read­ers. She agrees with an ed­u­ca­tor’s as­sess­ment, “Any­body who went through those books got an ed­u­ca­tion.”

In the early 1920s, Hussey’s fa­ther Ernest Lear took his fam­ily to Labrador be­cause of a scarcity of cod­fish in Con­cep­tion Bay.

Hussey fin­ished her ed­u­ca­tion at Bat­teau, leav­ing school at 13. Statis- tics Canada later cred­ited her with Grade 10.

By 1943, when she mar­ried Max Hussey of Port de Grave, she had spent 16 sum­mers in coastal Labrador with her fam­ily, 15 at Bat­teau and one at Five Is­lands.

In the late 1970s, Hussey wrote the story of her Labrador life, which was pub­lished as “ Our Life on Lear’s Room” in 1981. The third edi­tion is sched­uled to be launched on Thurs­day, Aug. 4, at the Bay Roberts Visi­tor In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre.

Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by her pub­lisher, the au­thor “de­scribes the trip north on the Kyle, set­ting up the fish­ing room, the Labrado­ri­ans, the typ­i­cal day of a fish­er­man, cur­ing fish in the fall, the hard life of a young girl cook­ing for a crew, na­tive skills, folk medicine, mak­ing do with lit­tle, and ... games and amuse­ments to break up the long days of work.”

Rais­ing fam­ily of five

When Hussey’s hus­band Max died in 1956 at 35 of a heart at­tack, she was left with five chil­dren to raise: Ed­win, 12, Max­ine, 10, Guy, 7, Rex, 4, and Paul, 23 months.

She had “$ 140 to my name, no in­surance and a house not fin­ished,” she says.

She raised her fam­ily on what she calls the “ ba­sics. I was brought up to econ­o­mize and use nat­u­ral things.” She grew her own veg­eta­bles and raised her own hens. “ You could al­ways get a rounder or a fish,” she said. She sewed and mended her chil- drens’ boots. “ That was the kind of life I was used to.”

Her own brood “ liked what I put be­fore them,” Hussey says.

Thrives on soli­tude

They’ve long since left the hearth, but Hussey’s never lonely, she in­sists. Even to­day, she thrives on soli­tude, re­call­ing the si­lence she en­joyed in Labrador. “All I saw were the stars and the North­ern Lights,” she re­calls.

Nor is she bored. She lis­tens to ra­dio, but rarely watches tele­vi­sion or reads be­cause of fail­ing eye­sight.

Other than what she calls a “touch of angina,” Hussey is in ex­cep­tion­ally good health. Ad­mit­tedly, she no longer digs her gar­den or drives her car, but only be­cause she fell and broke her shoul­der, hip and arm two years ago.

“I miss be­ing able to go for a short drive,” she says.

She lives with her mem­o­ries, fondly re­call­ing rid­ing on a box cart and dray, and in a punt, mo­tor­boat, sail schooner, steamer, plane, and even sub­ma­rine.

The self-de­scribed “old-fash­ioned” se­nior has some ad­vice for young peo­ple: “I think a lot of the prob­lems (stem from) a lack of spir­i­tual ed­u­ca­tion when they’re grow­ing up. That makes a lot of dif­fer­ence be­cause they got noth­ing to hang on to and they go the other way.”

Mean­while, Hussey has no fears about the fu­ture.

“I’m at peace with my fam­ily, with my neigh­bours, and with my God,” she says. “ I sup­pose that will carry me through.”

Greta Hussey reads lit­tle these days be­cause of fail­ing eye­sight. How­ever, from time to time she takes out one of her Royal Read­ers and reads favourite por­tions.

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