The couple, in Hawaii, 2022. Photo: Courtesy of Lena Nguyen
As a widow and single mom, Lena Nguyen, now 82, emigrated in the 1970s from Vietnam to Canada, where she settled in Ottawa with her four children, Lyn, Van, Tu and Tom Ly. In the ’90s, she moved to Vancouver, where she owned and operated a beauty salon called Lena’s. Floridian engineer Jack Barrett, now 90 — had recently relocated to the West Coast when he strolled into her shop looking for a haircut. Here’s how they found love.
Lena Nguyen: Twenty years ago, Jack came into my salon for a trim. He was tall and handsome — 6-4 — and a polite, proper gentleman. It was love at
Jack Barrett: She was so beautiful and vibrant. Full of life and energy. I started visiting more and more often. I like to keep my hair very neat.
LN: Soon enough, he was visiting daily — whether he was getting a haircut or not. He’d even bring lunch and snacks!
JB: I think, after about the third haircut, I asked her on a proper date. We went to the Fairmont Hotel for their famous Sunday brunch. I was trying to impress her with my know-how about food in the city, but the truth is I was brand new and just getting my footing.
LN: I was impressed, but I’d much rather cook. I like to take inspiration from foods from all over the world and then make the recipes my own. We rarely eat out anymore.
JB: Lena is very strong-minded and has such interesting stories to tell. I love listening to her. She’s a hard-working, one-woman show, who had run a successful business for many years. She has a real knack for