AMHERST – One of Nova Scotia’s oldest residents has passed away.
Frances Legere, 108, died Sunday at Gables Lodge in Amherst.
Born June 16, 1903, in Lower Cove, Cumberland County and raised in nearby Minudie, she was a daughter of the late Louis and Jennie (Des Barres) Terrio and was the last surviving member of her immediate family.
“It’s a huge blow to the family,” said her grandson, Mike Sicheri, “She’s been the matriarch of the family for a long, long time.”
Legere was healthy up until the moment she died.
“I was up to see her Saturday and she was up in her chair, and we sat and talked and laughed,” said Sicheri. “She wasn’t 100 per cent, but she was fine.”
Sicheri said he liked to tease her.
“Nan spent some time in the States, just outside of Boston, when she was a young nurse practitioner,” he said. “I heard a story from another friend who lived there and they talked about a gentleman who was sweet on her when she lived down there, before she was married, but I never got anything out of her.
“She was a great politician and would always change the conversation,” he added. “She had this uncanny ability to steer a conversation wherever she wanted it to go. If she didn’t want to give you an answer, she would very delicately not give you an answer.”
Staff and residents were mourning her loss yesterday at Gables Lodge.
“You don’t have a 108-year-old here every day and you certainly don’t have a 108-year-old who is so smart and so well in every aspect of the word,” said director of recreation services Jill Blaikie. “She had so much to offer. She had good advice and the joy of her presence.
“She was a glorious lady who we all feel privileged to have gotten to know here. It’s a different place without her.”
Sicheri, 41, said he talked constantly about his grandmother’s age.
“People say, ‘my grandmothers 89,’ and I’d say, ‘that’s not that old, my grandmother is 108, and they say, ‘What?’” said Sicheri. “It was a point of pride in the fact that she was strong enough to live to 108 and she still had her mind. When I talked to her on Saturday she was very lucid and cognitive.”
Sicheri isn’t sure why she lived so long.
“Nan said she never smoked, never drank, and it’s because she was a devout Catholic,” said Sicheri, “But I’m going with genetics.”
He also said it could be because she was always content.
“She fully believed her life was exactly how it was supposed to be and she was extremely content. She was extremely happy,” said Sicheri. “It’s an attitude of complete calmness inside of her. Nothing got her excited, but she did worry about everybody.
“She broke into tears about us living in the modern world. She didn’t know how we did it,” added Sicheri. “I’d say ‘Ok Nan, but you grew up with no electricity or plumbing.’”
Legere’s favourite invention was the telephone.
“Not indoor plumbing, not indoor hot water, not cars, not electricity, but the telephone,” said Sicheri. “The greatest invention, according to my grandmother, was the telephone because she could keep in contact with her friends and family.”
Sicheri said he has hundreds of great memories of growing up with his grandmother but the one that jumps out immediately is making cookies with her.
“She would always wait until I came home to make cookies,” he said. “It didn’t matter if my hands were clean or dirty, I would always help Nan make cookies.”
Sicheri said she was like a grandmother to everybody.
“She believed life was to treat everybody the same,” he said. “Nan loved everybody, everybody was loved equally, no matter if you were family, if you were a friend or if you were a stranger that walked through the door. She was very accepting, very open, very loving.
“She never wavered.”