Paula and Lifestyle Coordinator, Barbara R., have become good friends since Paula’s arrival. Their friendship started slowly, but bit by bit Paula found herself volunteering to help with preparations for various activities and eventually for some of the activities as well.
One of her unique talents is baking…from scratch! During my interview with her, Paula told me that each month she bakes 160 or so treats that are brought to the Senior Center in Troy, Missouri. Paula enjoys doing it herself, but some pals assist with shelling nuts or other prep work.Once the goodies are baked, Paula and 6 or 7 others package them for delivery. Homemade Red Velvet Chocolate cake, anyone? That was December’s special treat.
In addition to the monthly treat delivery to the Senior Center, each month a local business is selected to receive some homemade goodies from Paula and her friends.
Imagine the wonderful smells sifting through the halls at Sugar Creek…and the temptations for residents and staff. Usually a very giving person, Paula has learned to say “No!” when asked by someone if they can have a piece.
“One time I caught a man getting some water. He picked up a piece and tried to put it in his pocket,” she said.
“What did you do?” I asked.
“I said, ‘Put that back!’ Sometimes I even put up a ‘Do Not Touch’ sign.”
In addition to her fabulous baking skills, Paula has become a valuable activities assistant. If volunteers are unable to come by when Barbara, the Lifestyles Coordinator, is away on business, Barbara calls Paula and asks her to take over. She may lead bingo or set up and assist with other activities.
“We’re making small quilts for the police now,” she explained. “ They can be given to children when police need something to comfort them.” Don’t be surprised if Paula and other quilters get requests from the local Fire Department as well.
When I asked what she liked about being a resident at Sugar Creek Assisted Living, she said, “It’s a nice place. Everybody is a friend. I usually sit with three others and sort of look after them. I had two back surgeries and the doctor said I should not live alone. I've been here three years.”
Paula likes the variety of activities, as well as time to read and work various types of puzzles. She is also a self-proclaimed animal lover.
When asked where she grew up, she said, “In southeast Missouri on a farm. I married when I was a sophomore in high school. When my husband joined the Navy, I stayed home and finished high school.” After his time in the military, Paula and her husband moved to St. Louis where he worked for JS McDonnell Company. They were married for 45 years.
As a young woman, Paula worked as a beautician for a few years, but found that running a daycare was far more rewarding and fun. “I loved it.
It was like family. I had a big garden and if we wanted corn, we went out and picked it.” I asked her how she survived providing day care for 20 years, and she said, “Just by loving.”
In terms of children, Paula proudly reported that all three of her children (two boys and a girl) became teachers, and one even teaches dance.
She also has 10 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren. Among her grandchildren there is a nurse and an engineer. She seems very proud of her family’s career accomplishments and jokingly said, “I’m waiting for a lawyer.”
We wish Paula many more years of baking, quilting, reading, assisting, and being a wonderful friend to others.
About the Author:
Jenny Mummert, M.Ed., has a career background in higher education. She lives in mid-Missouri and has managed the care of her elderly parents, both of whom had dementia and lived 400 miles away. Her personal blog, “Drifting Toward Planet Elderly,” serves as therapy, a family history, and a case study of her family’s journey with dementia. Jenny’s mother now lives in Mid-Missouri where they enjoy daily morning coffee and chat time with friends at The Arbors at Mill Creek Village.