The BE-YOU-tiful Beyond 40 (40 Over 40) Project
I’ve been currently working on a photography project called The BE-YOU-tiful Beyond 40 Project. Also known as the 40 Over 40 project. This project celebrates the strength, wisdom and beauty of women over 40 through powerful photos and stories. The 40 Over 40 project will culminate in a magazine featuring the stories and favourite images of all 40 amazing participants. As part of this project I got to photography 102 year old Lillian Wherry.
Celebrating 102 Years
Lillian Ethel Wherry, was born in Hamilton on November 1, 1920. Yes, 1920!!!
She is 102 years old and I was super privileged to meet her and to capture her.
Lillian’s memory is incredible. In a written memoir she shares many stories. She recalls her seamstress mom making her dresses with ruffles, “stiffners” and petticoats. Lillian well remembers both the Great Depression and her brother going off to World War II. He sadly died due to his beatings in the POW camps. She tells of the blacksmith’s shop on Barton Street, milk deliveries, reciting the “new” poem “In Flanders Fields” in school and homemade canned goods and puddings. She even remembers the excitement of getting their first family radio and how they gathered round on Sunday mornings to listen to the King’s speech. It was one afternoon, while shopping at Easton’s that they heard of King Eddie’s abdication – a part of history that many Canadians today might not even know about.
Her life is a history of transportation, as she remembers traveling by horse and wagon, getting her first bicycle, and eventually owning their first car – an Austin.
Church was always a big part of her life – being an active volunteer, being part of church plays and singing in church choirs. She was a member of the Bach Elgar choir at one point as well. Lillian even learned to play the organ at church.
I went to her nursing home to take her photos and luckily enough they have an organ. I may have shed a tear or two as she played and sang for us, from memory, “What a Wonderful World”.
She married a neighbourhood sweetheart – Bob Wherry, in 1942. They had 2 sons, 3 grands and 4 greats. After 68 years of marriage, Bob passed away at 98 years old.
Hamilton Volunteer of the Year – 2017
Lillian has always had a giving and compassionate heart. She shared memories of collecting pop cans, postage stamps, plastic bread ties, donations for hats and mitts and food at Christmas, sock drives, towel drives. In 2017 Lillian received the Hamilton Volunteer of the Year Award in recognition for all her volunteer work in the community.
I loved some of the wise words Lillian shared on living a good life:
- Don’t focus on your age and getting older. Live every day like it’s a gift. Age is irrelevant.
- The wrinkles and the gray hair don’t change who you are. Love yourself just as you are.
- Take good care of yourself with plenty of rest and good food.
- Be thankful for what you are and who you are.
- Every day, try to do something for someone else.
Thank you Lillian for being such an amazing example that you are never too old to be seen and recognized, and for being such a giving, loving, community centred woman for so many years. It was an incredible pleasure to meet you and capture you.