Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Growing Older But Not Up

Thanks to Monica, one of the attorneys here at Katten & Benson, for sharing this great article about the oldest African American, Mississippi Winn. Miss Winn died recently at the young age of 113. Another amazing fact about her is that she was one of two known people left whose parents were likely born into slavery. Her niece said that even though she was 113, she thought she was young. Her family thinks one reason she lived as long as she did was because she just handled things as they came, of course, no husband or children might have been a factor as well.

I have my own Miss Winn story. Many years ago, when I still worked in the hospital, one of my patients was a nun, Sister Winifred. At the time that I knew her, she was 101. She was mostly deaf, and didn't see well, and she used to tell us that she figured God decided she had seen and heard enough.

She had been a teacher for many, many years, despite the fact that she did not really want to be a teacher. But she became a teacher anyway, because that is what the Church needed her to do, so she did it. Despite this, she had middle-aged, former students visit her in the hospital. I suspect teaching truly had been her calling, because she had clearly been beloved by many of her students.

The day I told her she was going to be discharged and would be able to return to her convent, she took my hand and said this to me: "I will pray for you every day for the rest of my life. I know that won't be long, but I will pray for you every day". She ended up living another three years. I never doubted that I was in her prayers.

Knowing her for even a short time was a gift I will always cherish. I hope all of you have the opportunity to be touched by a remarkable older adult.

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