Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A story worth telling

You probably didn't know Janet Copeland, but she was a sweet, wonderful lady who loved Chinese food and who loved to paint little figurines. She always had a smile and an encouraging word for Tony and me. She always finished every conversation with us by saying "ya'll be careful driving." She was a positive person who had many friends.

What you might not realize is that my entire involvement with her was at Heritage Healthcare Nursing Home here in Moultrie and her friends were the very dedicated staff at Heritage Healthcare. Ms. Copeland was only about 53 years old, but she had been in the nursing home for years. She didn't walk and only got out of bed with tremendous assistance to go to a doctor's appointment. She never married and didn't have children but she seemed to "mother" each of us she encountered. She was my mother-in-law's roommate at the nursing home and she unexpectedly passed away last week.

I do not know why I felt such a strong desire for you to know Ms. Copeland. Perhaps it is ironic that she spent so much of her life in a nursing home, but her death will now be a part of the Internet that is accessible to the far corners of the world! She felt that her job as Mrs. Anderson's roommate was to observe and report to us who visited Mrs. Anderson and to make suggestions for her conduct. My strong-willed mother-in-law did not always take the suggestions too well. She has short-term memory loss, but she has NOT lost her strong will.

Tony and I still have trouble dealing with the death of residents of the nursing home. I know that death is a fact with a community of elderly patients and I have tremendous respect for the nurses, CNA's, administrators, and support staff who so tenderly care for the residents. The staff spends so much time with the residents that they must be tremendously saddened each time a resident passes away. The crazy thing for me is that I am always surprised when one of the residents dies. I definitely feel like a hole has been created where a sweet, gentle person once filled it. There is always another elderly citizen of our community waiting for a spot at the nursing home so that the cycle continues. We are very fortunate to have so many quality nursing homes in Moultrie. If you have ever dealt with placing a family member in a nursing home, you know the importance and peace of mind that comes with finding a caring environment for your family member.

It's tough visiting a nursing home when you are young and healthy. We all are afraid of aging and the unfortunate results that accompany aging. I assure you that you will be blessed by visits to the nursing home. There are quite a lot of characters sitting in those wheel chairs. You never know what you might see or hear from the residents. I always have at least one good laugh as the residents comment on my shiny, red pocketbook or when the little old ladies smile at my sweet husband.

Ironically while looking for Ms. Copeland's obituary last week, I came across an obit for Vivian Hall. I would not have even looked at the obit because the name was not familiar at first, but there was a picture attached and I thought I recognized the picture. I was right. Ms. Hall was a GED student at MTC and was a pure delight to know. She struggled with math as many people do, but she worked diligently with tutors to try to master the subject. When I would see her in town, she always stopped me to talk about her efforts at school. I think she was very proud that after so many years she was back in school working toward her GED. We were certainly proud of her.

For most of you, neither one of these ladies, Ms. Copeland or Ms. Hall, may have crossed your path. In their own small ways they touched my life and I wanted to share them with you. Both of them are gone, but a little bit of them lives on with me. This blog is a way for a tiny piece of their story to be told to people who might not have known them. I hope that you have a blessed week and maybe you could share the story of someone who may not have been on the front page of the newspaper, but whose story is worthy of telling.