Letter carriers in the small New Brunswick town of Beaver Habour have had a busy week delivering almost 2,000 birthday cards that have already been sent to resident Arnold Hawkins in celebration of his milestone later this month.
“I didn’t plan on any of this,” said his granddaughter Cheryl McKinley who posted a message on her grandfather’s Facebook page, Life at 109, last week hoping to collect 110 cards to read to him on his birthday.
The former Maritime fisherman will celebrate his 110th birthday on Jan. 30.
The family would typically hold an open house inviting people from the entire county to drop in to wish the apparent oldest Canadian-born man a happy birthday in person, said his daughter Violet McKinley. But she said they did not want to take any changes allowing visitors into his home during the pandemic, for fear he might contract COVID-19.
“We just want to protect him from the public and from the germs,” Violet said.
The family has since received more than 1,800 cards from people across the country, many of whom McKinley says are being inspired by her father’s resilience.
Granddaughter Cheryl McKinley
“It has done so much for the people all across Canada and they are sending so many messages saying how uplifting it is to them,” Violet McKinley said.
She notes her father is now living through his second global pandemic.
“I just can’t believe he is still here. He is still pretty good, he is still talkative,” she said, “he lived through the Spanish flu in 1918 and now this one.”
McKinley said her father still has a great sense of humor and cannot resist his sweet tooth. Word must have gotten out about that fact, because she said the mayor of St. Stephen sent him a basket full of Gagnon chocolates and the Irving family sent him cupcakes with ‘110’ written in the frosting.
‘I have had a lot of messages and comments that it makes them feel good to see this,” said his granddaughter who had planned to read Hawkins all of his cards on his birthday. She says “I may need a truck” to store the hundreds of cards still pouring in and “months” to get them all read.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.