Saturday, March 2, 2013

Ms. Helen

So I suppose it's time for an update since its been six months.

I'm not even in Charleston anymore so I guess my title needs to be changed.

But that isn't gonna happen just yet.

It'd take too much effort.

And I'm still a bit in denial that I no longer live in America's number one city.

Really, I'm just back to tell ya a story about my good friend, Ms. Helen!

So I volunteered at Brakebill Nursing Home on and off throughout undergrad and made a few fun friendships there. Several of the residents I'd visit had dementia and wouldn't recognize me each week as anyone more than a friendly face. But Ms. Helen! She was an amazing woman with a memory extraordinaire. Each week, we would gab and swap stories, and she would always ask for updates on anything I had mentioned to her previously. "How did your test go last week?" "How is your friend in Alabama?" "Did you pick up your bridesmaid dress yet?" 85 years old, and so sharp! Shaper than me for sure.. "Did I have a test last week?!" She was such a sweet encouragement to me week after week. When the time came for me to graduate UT and move to Charleston, I was sad to leave my good friend. But we said our goodbyes and I promised to write.

I wrote her one letter that summer. But between gross anatomy and some uncertainty that my letter made its destination, I was unfaithful penpal. I often wondered about Ms. Helen and how she was doing; I hated that I had lost touch.

So after 18 spectacular months in Charleston (minus all that studying riffraff), I returned to Knoxville this January to complete an OT clinical practicum. In the back of my mind as I moved back to Big Orange Country was Ms. Helen. Would she still be there? If so, would she remember me? So I had to wait until my work week ended, because apparently you can't leave in the middle of the work day to go visit your college buddy. Rude, real world, rude. So when Saturday came, I headed to Brakebill to help with their morning social activity, serve lunch, and find Ms. Helen. I spent the first thirty minutes there wheeling residents to the morning activity. I didn't remember where Ms. Helen's room was and still didn't even have any confirmation she was there. But then the activities staff woman I was working with said, "oh! I have to get one last resident: Helen Isabel."

I got chills! I volunteered to go get her and booked my way to her room. It felt like a movie because as I arrived to her door, a nurse opened it wide, and there was Ms. Helen at the door, ready to go. Now Ms. Helen is partially blind, so I knew she wouldn't be able to recognize my face. I said, "Hey Ms. Helen!" And without a moment's hesitation, she said, "Hey! I know who you are.. You're Emily!"

She remembered me. And not only that, she proceeded to ask me all kinds of questions; she was ready for an update!

"How is your brother doing in Colorado?"

"Did your Dad's knee surgery go okay?"

"Did your parents ever decide to move?"

"Is your mom still working as a nurse?"

"How did it work out with your Charleston roommate?"

"Is she still with her Navy boyfriend?"

She remembered so many details about my life. It was just wild! She told me how she had been praying for me and my whole family. She had thought she would never see me again. I am so thankful that God blessed us both with such a sweet reunion.

And ya'll! It gets even better. Ms. Helen is a huge Vols sports fan! Without a doubt, the biggest I know. She can't watch TV so she listens to every game--every football, men's basketball, women's basketball, and baseball game--on her little walkman radio. She stayed up past midnight to listen to UT play Florida last week. She keeps up with all the players, coaches, stats, recruits. She is no joke. And the icing on the cake is she wrote an amazing poem called "Vol Fever." And it is so good, it made it on television! Check out this link to see Ms. Helen and her poem's debut on channel 10!

Ms. Helen and Vol Fever

And stay tuned, because I'm gonna work on overwhelming Butch Jones' twitter to get him to meet Ms. Helen. Brakebill has offered to throw a big tailgate party for him and the residents if he'll come pay a visit! We gotta get this done!



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