Several members of Ruth Caverhill’s family gathered at Riverside Court Saturday afternoon, May 29, for an outdoor celebration marking her 106th birthday.
Among those celebrating was six-year-old Emma Caverhill, who carried flowers to present to her great-grandmother, born 100 years before her.
Born in 1915, as the First World War was nearing its peak, Ruth Caverhill’s lifespan includes two world wars, two global pandemics, the great depression and a century of vast technological growth.
She spent most of that entire century at the family farm in Nackawic.
“She never left the farm,” said her son Peter.
Aside from a brief period in the 1940s where his mother helped the Second World War effort while working in Ontario, she lived on the family farm in what was once considered Lower Southampton, and now Nackawic.
For many years, Ruth and her late husband Eugene Caverhill operated a general store in Nackawic.
Peter said his mother remained at her Nackawic home into her mid-90s before moving to Riverside Court in October of 2011.
While extremely tired during Saturday’s celebrations, Peter said doctors reported his mother remains in reasonably good health for a woman of her age.
Riverside Court staff said the 106-year-old always seems to have trouble sleeping during a full moon, explaining Mrs. Caverhill’s drowsiness during the birthday party.
Other than a deterioration in her eyesight and hearing, Peter said his mother remains alert and relatively mobile, although recently more dependent upon a wheelchair.
He said when Riverside staff reminded her about the upcoming birthday celebration, Mrs. Caverhill responded, “oh, it must be May 29.”
Among the family members on hand for the celebration was grandson Brennan Caverhill, who teaches and coaches sports in Ontario. He said it was special to be able to attend the event this year.
Many relatives, who live far from the Woodstock area, could not attend, including Paul’s son Michael and family, who live in Alberta.
Daughter-in-law Anne Caverhill said Ruth’s great-grandchildren think about her. She shared a story about six-year-old Sarah, one of Michael’s two daughters, who recently got her first chance to buy something herself with a Canadian $20 bill. She was amazed to see her “great nanny’s” photo on it, apparently finding her resembling Queen Elizabeth.
In addition to hosting the birthday party outside, Riverside Court staff prepared a large display in the senior residence’s lobby, which included photos from Mrs. Caverhill’s long life, many from her days on the farm. One particularly poignant shot showed her as a young mother, facing her home, with her back to the camera, holding her babies, Peter and Paul, with their young faces visible to the camera.
Peter said the photo dates to the late 1940s.
He said he appreciated the efforts of Riverside Court staff to arrange the event, which allowed the family to share the special day with his mother.
Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun