A couple of broken ribs and a wonky elevator have forced Mary Foote to give up some of her independence.
For a little while at least.
Mary, who will celebrate her 102nd birthday Wednesday, Oct. 25, normally lives on her own in Langley City but was forced to move into her daughter Edith’s and son-in-law Clarence’s house in Brookwood as she recovers from minor injuries suffered after falling out of bed at the family cabin at Murphy Lake in the Lac La Hache region of the Cariboo.
But Mary’s still getting around the house, using her walker for support.
The elevator in her apartment building is out of commission for a short time, and Mary isn’t quite able to climb the stairs to get to her condo.
But once she’s all healed up and healthy enough to return home, Mary is eager to be on her own again.
“In our building we have dominoes and crib and a coffee party every Thursday morning,” Mary shared.
“She does have some home support come in for meds,” Edith added.
Aside from her sore ribs, Mary said she feels, “really great for an old lady.”
Mary is an active senior. At the ages of 99, 100, and 101 she was the oldest walker in Canada in the Crohn’s & Colitis Canada Gusty Walk.
At this year’s walk supporting Crohn’s & Colitis Canada, Mary was a member of Team TP, which raised roughly $1,500, while the chapter generated roughly $80,000 in donations.
Mary’s 36-year-old granddaughter Krista Olson suffers from ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes long-lasting inflammation and ulcers (sores) in a person’s digestive tract.
“I want her to be cured of this disease,” Foote said in the lead-up to the June 4 walk. “If I can help in any way, that’s important.”
Mary did her own abbreviated version of the walk, about 20 minutes in the park, and around the nature house.
“Mind you, I didn’t do the whole walk, but I did the best I could,” she said.
Mary is one tough cookie. Her family believes that this centenarian and breast cancer survivor, who walks 15 to 20 minutes every day, is the oldest person in Canada to have undergone a mastectomy.
As well, her family has a history of longevity. “Her mom lived to be 94, (and) her sister lived to be 99,” Edith said.
Mary’s secret ingredient for healthy living is a breakfast staple for many.
“Porridge for breakfast every morning,” she said.
Edith, who calls Mary the “centre of our family,” says she feels “blessed” to have such an active and vibrant mom.
Mary was born 1915 at Moore’s Meadow, Fort George (now Prince George) to Welsh parents Charles and Mabel Hughes. She had two siblings, older brother William “Bill” Hughes and younger sister Elizabeth (Hughes) Comfort.
The family moved from the Fort George area to the Mud River Valley and lived there from 1919 to ’29, until Bill and Mary were able to go to high school in Prince George.
In 1934 the family moved to the Wells/Barkerville area, where Mary helped run the family’s general store.
C.H. Hughes & Son provided supplies to the miners of Barkerville. Mary still has the gold scales she used, accepting gold dust and nuggets as payment.
It was in Barkerville where Mary met and married William (Bill) Davies.
When the Cariboo Gold Quartz and Island Mountain mines became depleted and miners left the area, Mary and Bill moved to Aldergrove.
There they farmed until Bill’s passing on Nov. 26, 1966.
“She worked as hard as my dad on our farm in Aldergrove,” Edith said. “It was a small dairy and egg operation.”
Mary looks back on the days in Aldergrove with fondness.
“We were all together and it was a happy time in our lives,” Mary said. “That’s when Edie was born, which enriched our lives tremendously.”
In those years, Mary was very involved with the Aldergrove United Church, Royal Purple, and Edith’s school life and activities.
In 1967, Mary sold the farm and moved to White Rock to care for her mother.
In 1972, she married Darrel Foote and the couple retired to Qualicum.
Then, in 1995, Mary returned to Langley to be close to her daughter, two grandchildren Krista and Mike, and great-grandchildren (Mike’s children Mattias and Amy).
“Gigi – she’s known as Gigi by her great-grandchildren – she’s very happy to be part of their lives,” Edith said.
In the twilight of her life, Mary’s motto is, “it’s not the age, it’s the attitude.”
“Live every day as it comes along, and make the best of it,” said Mary, who plans on doing the Gutsy Walk once again in June 2018.