Parrywinkle, April 12, 2018

PHOTO BY JAMES PARRY

Celebrating at Whitlock Golf and Country Club and joining birthday gal, Frances Hynes (centre), were bottom row (left to right) Renate Pasborg, Lise Dorval and Marta Deschamps. At top left to right, Liz Rozon, Josette Mallette, Agnes Nichol, Anita Hynes, Muriel Baggott, Pauline Poirier and Barbara Verboomen.

Before I tell you about my flying visit to a little corner of India this weekend which - unlike that of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently went off without a hitch - let's turn the spotlight on two very special local ladies. Both nonagenarians who have just celebrated some milestone birthdays and who make no secret about their age, beginning with the youngest who has just qualified for that distinction!

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FANTASTIC FRANCES - Namely Frances Hynes, who turned 90 years young with her daughter, Anita, and fellow members of The Ladies Auxiliary of St. Thomas Parish in Hudson, a group that she founded way back in 1974 to make better lives for those less fortunate, especially children and who I met up with at a celebratory luncheon at Whitlock Golf and Country Club on Friday, April 6. (See photo on our Facebook page).

Unfortunately, and as first reported in The Journal back in December, their Christmas Arts & Craft Sale at St. Thomas Aquinas Church was to be their last due to older age and lack of member renewal in recent years. Since then, as I learned at the lunch, they have closed their bank accounts and what was left was donated to the Church on Main Road for its renovations.

Truly the end of an era for these exceptional volunteer ladies who, through the proceeds of their sale, supported so many worthwhile causes both locally and further afield. Including a woman's shelter in Vaudreuil-Dorion, sending kids to summer camp, Le Pont/Bridging food bank, contributing to the emergency fund of their beloved priest, Father Roland Demers, and providing medical supplies for a clinic in Peru where they personally adopted two families.

As was evident on Friday, while their auxiliary may be no more in an official capacity, these ladies - all inspired by Frances and her original vision 34 years ago - will continue to form a very special family of their own. With many more birthdays to come!

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AMAZING EMILY AIRD - And now to a lady who never ceases to amaze me and a true inspiration for so many people advancing in years. Namely Hudsonite Emily Aird who celebrated her 95th recently and who asked me when I wished her Happy Birthday at the Hudson Legion Branch #115, “Can you believe it James? I can't!”

“What's your secret?” I asked.

“I don't know,” laughed Emily. “I just keep on doing what I'm doing and, of course, I say my prayers every day.”

Evidently, someone up there is listening. For at 92 and even though she doesn't like heights, Emily suited up and leaning backwards walked 150 metres with no handrails outside around the CN Tower in Toronto. Her only complaint? It was cloudy and she couldn't see the city some 356 metres below! Oh yes, before that in previous years, she completed four long-distance bungee jumps in New Zealand and Canada and skydived from a plane high above St. Jerome in Quebec at the age of 91. (See photos on our Facebook page).

“So what are you planning this year?” I asked, half expecting her to say something like white water rafting on the Rivière Rouge without a life jacket. “I'm planning on going to Alberta,” she quietly replied. “I'm originally from there you know? And also to Galveston, Texas, where my younger sister, Elsie, passed away a few years ago and whose ashes were scattered in Galveston Bay.”

Ah Emily. You are truly one of a kind. And God bless you!

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AWESOME AYURVEDA - And now back to India. Well, in truth, to Hudson where long-time resident, Ann Michèle Bourret, has just opened her AyurvedAmb Wellness Centre dedicated, in her own words, to helping one re-engineer one's lifestyle as a means of preventative healthcare by ensuring optimal emotional and physical wellbeing.