“A reporter from the local newspaper is here to see Ms. Hicks,” the receptionist announced.
“What newspaper? Why?” I inquired, unsure why Ms. Hicks would be having that type of visitor.
Ms. Hicks was a fairly new resident in the nursing home. She was one of the most social and fun ladies in the facility. Her sense of humor and witty conversations delighted every one that spent time with her.
“The reporter said that he had arranged the interview with Ms. Hicks' daughter, who he says is on her way here.”
I rushed to the lobby to meet the reporter. He explained that he was assigned to write an article about “The Convent,” a historical building in town that had recently been refurbished and converted into a convention center.
The Convent had served as an orphanage in the 1930’s during the Great Depression. Many parents abandoned their children due to their poverty. Jobless parents with children starving, and worse, with no home.
The newspaper had tracked down Ms. Hicks as one of The Convent alumni graduates.
“Ms. Hicks is some sort of celebrity,” some of the other residents gossiped.
She truly was a celebrity.
A few days later, Ms. Hicks interview and photos were published in the newspaper. The article became the talk of the residents and staff, and Ms. Hicks became even more popular than she was before.
One day I noticed that Ms. Hicks seemed quiet and reclusive. I decided to check if everything was okay.
“May I visit with you, Ms. Hicks,” I asked as I entered her room. She motioned for me to come in.
“I am impressed about your experience at The Convent,” I said. “I know you already gave a great deal of details about what it was like living in there, but tell me, what do you think about having that experience?
Ms. Hicks began telling me about how her father died at age 40, in a car accident, and how her mother had to take care of her seven children. Not having a home to raise them, a menial job, and little education, she had no option other than to take her children to The Convent. Four boys and three girls. Mrs. Hicks mentioned that the boys and girls lived in total separated quarters, and never met.
“I had the chance to be with my sisters. I was the youngest one. We had as much fun as we could, but it was hard times. Especially when my older sisters reached the age they had to leave The Convent.”
Ms. Hicks never saw her brothers from the time she entered The Convent until she was 16 and left the institution. Then she and her siblings reunited.
“It was one of the happiest days in my life,” she said. Her eyes became teary.
“And what about your mother? Did you ever see her?” I asked.
“She visited us once a year.”
“Once a year?”
“She lived 180 miles away, and she didn’t have the money or the transportation to come and see us more often.”
Ms. Hicks told me that her mother had to go and live with other relatives in order to survive.
“We all survived. We got a good education at The Convent. We worked hard, and learned work ethics. We grew up with Christian principles,” she proudly expressed.
Ms. Hicks had a successful career in the business field. She had a happy marriage, and was proud of her well-educated and loving children.
Ms Hicks had recently become a widow, but managed to live independently afterward. She was at the nursing home for rehabilitation after falling and sustaining a hip fracture. Her determination and will power were exceptional despite her 83 years of age.
“One thing I don’t understand,” she said, with soft voice. “All my siblings are deceased. I am the last one. The only one alive. Why am I the one to live this long?”
“There must be a reason, Ms. Hicks. You probably have the answer, if you think about it,” I said. “Maybe you’re here to inspire all of us and share your story. I am sure the newspaper story touched many other people. You are an example for others to follow. You are the most courageous and tenacious person I’ve recently met.”
A high pitched voice interrupted our conversation. “Grandma!” Ms. Hicks’ great-grandson jumped on her lap and hugged her.
I heard the steps of other people approaching the room door.
Ms. Hicks glanced at me, with a big smile.
“I think I just found the answer!” she said, as she embraced her great-grandson.