|An Interview: Leonie Bouchard-Cushman
By Sandra Bouchard
Interview with L. Bouchard
My interview is with Leonie Bouchard-Cushman
who is 81 years young. I wish you could hear her voice, she talks
with a thick French accent and is fond of saying yes, my dear.
I found her utterly charming. I just let her talk, she had a lot
to say and I taped her.
My name is Leonie B. Cushman Iím 81
years old, but I work hard running my farm and caring for the sick.
Right now that means taking care of my husband Howard, and his wheelchair
bound sister Gladys.
I am a Catholic. I had a first husband named
Alfie Bouchard with him I had six children and I have an adopted son named
David. I lost some of my kids and now David is gone leaving three
left. I worked in a hospital with the nuns from the age of 13 to 19.
I got married at 19. I had my first child at 20 and my last at the
age of 36. I worked all the time at the house because my husband
want me to work and stay at the house. My husband died in 1982 and
I remarried in 1985 to Howard A. Cushman.
My first husband was Alfie Bouchard
he was a catholic, he was born in soldier pond Maine. I was born
in Fort Kent October 27,1918 and Alfie was born on January 1,1918 also.
We moved from Fort Kent to Portland with three children where my husband
worked at the shipyard then he was drafted in 1945 and went to the army.
At the time I had five children. I had a set of twins, girls born
in 1945. I was left at the house with five children, but I managed
very well. Then my husband died in 1982 of lung cancer it was a long
process. I knew it for 12 years. However, we didnít tell my
husband, he thought he had heart trouble for eight years and then he started
to be very sick. He started to drink and he drink for two years then
he was operated on and lived two years after that. I gave him a lot
of vitamins and took care of him till the day he died. One of my sons died
of drowning at 15 that was Roy and one of my twin girls got encephalitis
and I took care of her for a long time and she died in her 20's.
My life has been good. My mind is still sharp and I make sure to
exercise. I have gained weight and would love to walk, but I must
stay close to the house to care for my husband who has prostate cancer
and his sister. When my husband was so sick for three years, I had
cataracts and two years after I married Howard I had surgery, a laser and
now I see very well. Enough to drive and to read a book very well
and I do many baby stuff knitting, right now Iím working on an afghan that
is going to California for a beautiful baby boy.
I learn to drive when I was 62 because
my husband was ill and my little girl was sick, they donít know how I passed
but I did.
I want to say something about my work
with the nuns. On living with the Nuns: I was born in Fort Kent,
Maine we moved to Beddeford, Maine I went to St. Andrews Convent where
I did my first communion. The nunís made a beautiful dress color
of peach and trimmed in light blue for me and they also made one for my
little sister. When we moved to another street they made me went
to St. Joseph Convent. Then we moved to Canada in 1927, where I went
to work at Reviere Dee the catholic nunís hospital at 12 years old which
I loved. Then I went to Eagle Lock nun hospital where I learned to
take care of the sick. I enjoyed my nuns I would not change it for
the world. I used this knowledge all my life to take care of the
sick, and still do. I care now for my husband Howard has cancer which
is dormant now and for his wheelchair bound sister Gladys. So you
see at 81, I am still very busy. I say thanks to all my nuns and
to God every day for what they taught me. I am still very religious.
We only lived in Canada for one year, and then moved back to Maine, but
it is a time I will always remember and keep close to my heart.
We worked very hard
always, but things have changed now young people seem to expect things
to be given to them without working for it. When I was young we earned
what we got. I get very frustrated by this attitude. I wish this
would change. I always lived among the English( I think Leonie meant
English Speaking) and learned their ways, but I still speak Canadian French
and raised my children to speak only French growing up. (I know this is
all too true, because when my husbands father met his mother Sharon when
they were both sixteen they had a hard time communicating because he spoke
French, but yet they fell in love.) I asked Leonie if she ever gets
depressed? No, she said because of my deep faith in God. I
know if god is looking down after me he wouldnít want to see me moping
around. After all I have so much to be grateful for. My mind
is still good, Iíve remained healthy, it makes me feel good helping those
who live with me. I love children and enjoy my grandchildren and
great grandchildren very very much. I love having company and watching
medical shows, probably this is because I worked as a nurse, but I always
learn something new. When my husband went to have his prostate surgery
I watched the video of his surgery. I try to go out everyday, but
sometimes I canít help feeling isolated on the farm. I like to play
cards at the American Legion hall and help them with charity work. I have
my garden and last year me and two teenagers planted five acres of pumpkins
in one day. I kept up with those youngsters and they couldnít believe it,
but boy was I pooped when we finished. We sell pumpkins to the navy
base, and I can and freeze a lot of vegetables.
I asked her if she had any thing else
she wanted to say? Leonie said,Ē I have had a good life and
I wish I could live to be 100, I donít know
if Iíll make it but I will try.Ē I still love color especially pink.
I love shopping. I stay away from things that depress me. I
thank you for taking the time to come visit me.