A Great Storyteller
Upon entering the room at the nursing home the first thing that you notice is the pictures of her family. As you see her lying in the bed she is surrounded by the photos of her husband, children and grandchildren. I am lucky to be one of those grandchildren. This frail, petite lady is my maternal grandmother, Lucille Page. She has resided at Monroe Health and Rehab since she broke her leg in February 2012. She initially went to the nursing home for rehabilitation, but since she was unable to walk after her fall, she decided to stay. When you see Lucille, she looks weak and small in her wheelchair or lying in the bed. Her hands and feet are crippled with rheumatoid arthritis and her vision is gone due to macular degeneration. But as we discover so many times in life, looks can be deceiving. All you have to do is start talking to Lucille and you soon realize she has unbelievable strength.
Lucille has served as an inspiration to all of us. She was born in 1927 as the second oldest child of seven. She grew up on a farm in rural Monroe County, Kentucky. She met her husband, Dentis at church and after a long distance romance and courtship while he was serving in World War II, they were married in August 1945. From this union came five children, fifteen grandchildren, and twenty five great grandchildren. All of them still live in Kentucky, most in Monroe County. Lucille has always known the value of hard work and has instilled that value into her family. Through the years Lucille has been known as a wife, mother, homemaker, store owner, quilt maker, cake baker, granny, and story teller. But most of all she has been known as a Christian woman with enough love to share with everyone she met.
As I began researching this article I was able to speak with Lucille and her immediate family regarding her life and her accomplishments. She was so excited to share her story with me and anyone who would listen. Sadly on Thursday, May 2 Lucille became seriously ill. Her physician felt that she had suffered a stroke. She soon lost her ability to communicate. It was at this time that her family gathered around her as the medical staff provided medications to keep her comfortable. During this time I was able to garner many more facts and stories about her life. Her influence was evident in all the laughter and tears of her family and friends. Lucille departed this life on Sunday, May 5.
When speaking with the family as well as the staff at Monroe Health and Rehabilitation I soon discovered one of Lucille's greatest gifts was her story telling ability. This was an activity that she had become interested in as her ability to see and work with her hands had been limited by the debilitating diseases. Even though she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when she was about 50 years old, she didn't let it negatively impact her life choices. Then when she lost partial vision at about age 65 and then almost full vision at about age 80, she once again didn't let it negatively impact her life. She was always able to find ways to do the things she loved. Thus she began her writing career as she liked to refer to it. She decided to write stories about her life and the everyday activities that many of us will never experience. She would dictate the stories to her daughter Debbie, who would take notes and write the story. Then Denise, her youngest daughter would transcribe and publish the books. Her first book was Life on the Farm. This book detailed all the daily activities of the day to day work needed on the farm in the 1940's. She described milking cows, gathering eggs, cutting tobacco, making butter and other activities that many of us are not familiar with in this day and time. She said she wanted her children and grandchildren to have an understanding of their history and the hard work that went into the daily life of their grandparents. The next book she wrote was entitled The Preachers and the Church. In this book she was able to describe some of the comical aspects of always being the family that the preacher went home with after church. She also stressed the importance of the spiritual aspect of her life and the impact that had made on her choices. She wanted the children to realize that God had been very instrumental in the success of her home and family and that her faith had carried her through the most difficult days and nights of her pains and sadness.
Her third book was The Store. This book described the material success of the family. She recounted funny as well as serious stories of their life as business owners in small town America. The last book that Lucille published was Quilts of Many Colors in 2012. In this book Lucille described her life's passion. She shared her love of quilting by describing her many quilts and the history of how this love was developed. There were pictures of her and Dentis with quilts they had made together and stories of her first electric sewing machine. She described the joy she felt as she shared her quilts with others. She gave each child and grandchild many quilts as well giving quilts to the needy. She talked about sharing her skills with others. Once she was unable to sew or quilt on her own, due to her hands and vision, she taught others how to make a quilt. One lady remembers asking Lucille to make her daughter a quilt. Lucille told her she was unable to make the quilt, but that if she would come to her house she would teach her to make one. Thus a beautiful relationship and friendship began, along with several quilts. This lady now has made quilts for each of her children. Many people remember Lucille telling them, "Come spend the day with me and I will teach you to make a quilt".
Lucille had many more ideas for books, but once she was in the nursing home she wanted to share her stories with as many people as possible. Thus she started her monthly newsletters. The first one was written in April 2012 to express her gratitude for all the cards and notes for her birthday. She received such a positive response from that newsletter she began planning more. When the newsletters began, she planned them for the family. The newsletters contained current information on her health and wellbeing as well as news of the family. But they also told a short story of days gone by. Soon others heard of her newsletters and wanted to read them too. In May 2013 she had her family to mail out over 100 newsletters to family and friends. Her daughters promised that they would mail out one last newsletter once Lucille was unable to do so herself. In this newsletter the children want to share the beautiful story of Lucille's life and her passion for living life to the fullest.
As the family and friends gathered at the funeral home I made an astounding realization. When talking with everyone we discussed how much enjoyment Lucille received when she was writing those books and newsletters, but as we read the stories and looked at the quilts once again we soon realized that all of those stories were for us. She did enjoy reliving all the precious memories, but most importantly she left a legacy for the family. Her legacy ensures that the story of our family will never be forgotten. Nor will we ever forget the storyteller.