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Sunday, June 16, 2019

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A special day for a special lady

A special day for a special lady

Aline Foret is a “very special lady” and a dear friend to me and my wife who we love and admire. This month she will celebrate another birthday. She has had quite a few. This one is special because on Tuesday, she will be 104 years old!

Aline was born in Raceland on December 12, 1913. She spent most of her adult life in Lafourche Parish. But as a young girl she moved to New Orleans to live with her father and grandmother and learned to cook. Little did she know this skill would be her passion for the remainder of her long and eventful life.

After graduating from high school, Aline met her soon-to-be husband Gillis Foret on a blind date. Gillis was in the Coast Guard and after they were married they moved around the country, living in New Orleans, Washington, D.C., New York, and Florida.

In 1938, after Gillis’ service in the Coast Guard was completed, he and Aline moved to Golden Meadow and later built a house in Galliano.

Gillis went to work in the oilfield and Aline was a housewife who loved to cook. During her travels, she cooked Cajun meals for friends and eventually found herself working part-time in a private school in New York teaching the cooks how to cook Cajun and southern dishes.

Aline joined the Golden Meadow Women’s Club and quickly made a lot of friends. One day she learned that a new hospital was being built in Galliano and was in need of a dietician. She applied and, without credentials, got the job.

Working days and going to school in New Orleans at night, Aline received an associate degree in Food Preparation and remained working at Lady of the Sea Hospital for the next 26 years.

She also published two cookbooks, one a candy cookbook and the other a seafood cookbook.

Meanwhile, in 1943, the Forets had their first and only child, a daughter they named “Happy”.

After being married for 42 wonderful years filled with love and kindness, Gillis passed away in 1975.

Widowed in her early sixties, Aline resumed her love for cooking by preparing gourmet meals for private parties and friends. This is where she met her second love, Enest Pierce. Together, they enjoyed being with friends and going on fishing trips to Grand Isle.

This relationship lasted 24 years until the death of Enest at the age of 97 in 2004.

This was about the time I met Aline. My wife, Dot, had known her for many years through their activities in the Golden Meadow Women’s Club. I met her at a house party in our home and found her to be the most enthusiastic, positive person I had ever met.

She must have been thirty years older than all of us but acted much younger. I learned later on that while in her nineties, Aline was an active participant in an exercise program at Physiofit in Galliano and was even on a billboard advertising the value of keeping in good health.

Each year we looked forward to receiving a Christmas letter from Aline. It was always filled with fun and positive thoughts and always reminding us of her never ending quest to find another man to spend the rest of her life with.

Her letter always ended with this quote: “We can’t all be stars, but we can all twinkle.”

Aline is also one of the most independent women I have ever met. She lived alone in her home and enjoyed cooking holiday meals for her family and friends.

She drove her car until she was about 95 when she called and asked if I would sell it because she had decided it was time for her to stop driving.

I remember having the difficult task of taking away my mother’s and mother-in-law’s vehicles to protect them and the public from their erratic driving. Aline made the hard decisions without burdening family or friends. Neighbors and friends would grocery shop for her and help with her yard.

Aline loved it when friends would stop by to visit and particularly loved to talk politics when I would drop by. She always remained informed and interested in what was happening on the bayou and in the world around her.

On her 100th birthday, we joined friends and family at her little home in Galliano. Dot and I brought her three small poinsettias with white wooden numbers 1-0-0.

The next year we gave her the same gift with the numbers 1-0-1. The year after that I purchased the numbers 2, 3, and 4 to add each year to the 1 and 0 she still had.

I’m certain I’ll be looking for a number 5 this time next year.

In January of this year, at the age of 103, Aline informed us she had decided to move to an assisted living facility in Houma near to where her daughter and grandchildren live.

This was another independent move on her part to do what she thought was best for herself. It wasn’t long after she made the move that she was sharing some of her cooking knowledge with the cooks in the assisted living complex.

Everyone there knows her and loves her like we do.

Now we’re joining her in celebrating her 104th birthday. Aline is sharp as a tack and in good health. She is happy and has made many new friends at her new home.

We are always uplifted and invigorated after a visit with Aline. She is such a joy to be around. We love her zest for life and the positive, never complaining attitude she has had throughout her life.

We have learned so much from this wonderful special lady.

To those of us who know and love Aline, we wish you a Happy Birthday!

You are the star who makes us all twinkle.