Family greatest source of pride for 100-year-old

TISDALE — Bernadette Kennedy never thought she would live another day when she was 50, but as she celebrated her 100th birthday she saw herself proven wrong.

Kennedy grew up on a farm at Cut Knife, Sask. Her parents were French-Canadians, who travelled from the east coast.

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At home she would speak French, and at school she would speak English.

Years later she would meet her future husband, Lionel Kennedy.

Kennedy said she doesn’t know how old they were when they met but jokingly she added, “I should have known better,” before chuckling.

Lionel worked for the Canadian National Railway. Due to this, she ended up moving around several times before ending up in Tisdale.

“If you want to get ahead, you have to move,” Kennedy said.

“It wasn’t easy sometimes, some of the places we moved to, but you make do.”

She said this also gave her kids an advantage because had to meet new people.

“Some kids find it hard when they grow up and have to go out in the world, but with us.... You’d have to ask them, but they didn’t have trouble making friends.”

Family has always been a big part of Kennedy’s life. Her room is covered with photos of her late husband, her parents, siblings, children and grandchildren. Some images were clearly not taken recently, with the black and white shades.

“I guess some people think I got too many pictures up, but I like it.”

In her living room there are flowers, gifted to her for the birthday occasion. On her wall, hangs proudly a plaque gifted by the Canadian National Railway, acknowledging her 100th.

While her husband worked on the tracks, she worked at home raising her four children. Raising them is the thing she’s most proud of.

Kennedy said her happiest memory is watching them grow up.

“To have them grow up and not end up in jail,” she said before laughing.

She said at that age her children were all teacher’s pets.

“They were pretty good, but there was just a year between each one until the last one and he turned out to be a hockey player so he was gone a lot. He ended up in Europe.”

One year for Christmas, Kennedy and her husband got their oldest child, Terry Duncan, a toy train set.

“We had it on the track and then the engine came off, and Terry was so scared, ‘the engineer is coming!’ – because we told him we lived right next to the track and he figured the engineer was coming after him.”

She said raising children is a worry, but it’s worth it when they’re all grown up with children of their own.

“The grandchildren are doing so good, they’re all professors and stuff like that,” Kennedy said.

She said she’s proud of them.

“They’re not the kind of people that go around thinking they’re something, but they are because they’re very smart.”

Now Terry lives in Tisdale and according to Kennedy, keeps an eye on her.

“He’s really good, and then my daughter used to live here too, but they live in Alberta. Her two daughters are coming to visit this week and they’re both in Alberta.”

Nowadays Kennedy describes her hobbies as playing cards, gossiping and the occasional dance – but nothing too classical.

“It’s funny isn’t it? We grow up, some days you never think you’re going to make it,” Kennedy said. “Here we are.”

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