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Celebrating a century plus two
CANTON- The Garden Cafe, located inside the Victorian Villa was humming with the sound of birthday wishes and casino chips on Monday when more than 40 residents and friends of Clara Thibault joined together to celebrate her 102nd birthday.
With aces, kings, queens and jacks hanging from the ceiling and tables covered in felt, activity director, Pauline Mailhot noted, “It's so wonderful to be able to celebrate such a milestone with Clara. She really wanted to go to a casino, but she understood that we couldn't do that. So, we brought the casino to her.”
While guests sang happy birthday to Clara, the kitchen staff provided a beautiful table full of Clara's favorite foods; petite fours, chocolate candies, pigs in a blanket and cupcakes with silver and gold sprinkles on top. One of her caregivers provided her with a strawberry daiquiri and a couple of her favorite treats.
When asked what the best part of being 102 was, Clara noted, “the chocolate.”
Shawnee Akers is a caregiver of Clara's and noted, “She loves to talk and loves to listen to Achy, Breaky Heart. She's a lot of fun.”
When this reporter asked how Clara made it to live to 102, many surrounding guests pointed to Melinda Ellis.
“I met Clara 15 years ago when she lived in Rumford,” noted Ellis. “We've been buddies ever since. We spend a lot of time scratching lottery tickets, talking and listening to music. She loves music and used to ballroom dance all the time.”
Another special person in the room, Anna Touchette, a.k.a. the bingo lady, noted of Clara, “Nobody can not love Clara. I just love her. She's a sweet giver and loves to sing and play bingo.”
Ellis noted that they will be setting up a skype conversation in the coming days so that Clara can see her niece, Joanne Batheson in California, for the first time in several years.
Clara's niece, Cindy Freeman was present and noted, “I remember aunt Clara and her husband taking my brother David and I on car trips all over the place like Abbott's Anchorage and we would always have crackers and sardines for a snack. Oh, we hated those things, but since they were coming from aunt Clara, we enjoyed every minute. To this day, I don't like sardines and they give me the chills just talking about them.”
In past years, the Victorian Villa staff has celebrated Clara's birthday with limo rides, big parties and a ride in a 1929 Packard convertible. It's everyone's guess as to what she'll want on her 103rd birthday and the wish of those present was that she will remain a healthy and strong 102 year old.