When Eunice Blanchard Hebert (August 27, 1907 – September 27, 2014) was buried on October 1st, Fr. Jody Simoneaux gave a warm eulogy for her in St. John’s church of Jeanerette, LA where Mrs. Hebert spent her century and seven years of life. In his farewell message Fr. Simoneaux quipped: “Where are all her classmates?” A church community of mourning relatives and friends laughed silently at the query about her absent classmates.
German statesman Konrad Adenaur observed: “1913 (the year before WWI) was the last normal year in our history.” Do we know of anyone else who was alive in 1913 and still recalls the last peaceful year in history? Mrs. Hebert knew life without running water, electricity, telephones and indoor conveniences.
Friends frequently asked about Mrs. Hebert and my wife Roselyn, the youngest of three daughters and two sons. Roselyn quietly spent Wednesdays and Saturdays each week in the company of her mother. When I responded to those (who are pleasantly surprised) Mrs. Hebert’s age of 107, some have asked in amazement: “107, and still alive?!?!” I was befuddled at the “still alive!” question.
When the logical inquiry (“How did she reach such a long life?”) followed, I could only theorize: *She breathed pure air in the countryside of Jeanerette.” The only threats might have been to the Hebert family, their flower garden and animals from occasional crop dusters passing nearby *She drank from a cistern before “acid rain” or well before ground water was contaminated. *Food came from their garden and creatures brought home by Mr. Hebert’s hunting and trapping. The family did not consume food laced with Genetically Modified (GMO) chemicals or meat loaded with steroids. The family cow produced milk that was not tainted by a chemical rBST which enhances milk production. * Hard labor in the daily care of flowers. Mrs. Hebert was affectionately known as “The Flower Lady of Jeanerette.” The family enterprise of which she was the” CEO” raised and sold 5000 chrysanthemums. The beautiful mums went towards decorating local graves on November 1st of each year. Not least, Mrs. Hebert’s longevity flowed from her deep faith expressed in generosity towards all then articulated prayerfully in French or English to a God who understands silence and any language.
Salvation is realized when humans through Divine Assistance manifest fullness of compassion. All who knew and loved Mrs. Hebert give thanks for her physical liberation after one century. Five generations of family members express gratitude in return to all who sent food, flowers and messages of condolences at this time of separation. May she abide forever in a celestial garden that does not require her labor in heat, hurricanes or inclement weather of Louisiana.