In 1978, Judith Diane Groce was in a horrible auto accident, and she had to learn to walk all over again. “Some days all I could take was one step,” she told me, and that is a fitting analogy for her life. She was born in 1947 in Giles County, TN, and her dad, a WWII vet, was both a farrier and had a tack shop. His expert blacksmithing was confined to the custom formation of horseshoes. Her mom was a homemaker, and as was customary for the day, there was a big garden, lots of canning, and thankfully in Judith’s case, lots of love. Tragedy struck Judith’s family twice: both her older sister and her younger brother were still born, and she ended up being an only child.
They were people of faith, and Judith fellowshipped as a young person at the Methodist Church. “I remember I used to walk to church with a [what was called in those days] retarded man. I wanted to make sure he got to church alright,” she said. Later in life she worshipped at the non-denominational Church of the Living God in Ardmore. Though raised on the TN side, Judith graduated from Ardmore High School in 1965, and was married soon after. She went on to get both her LPN and cosmetology degrees, and she greatly enjoyed the years from 1968-1972, when she worked in a beauty shop in Pensacola, FL. She is the mother of two sons, and has a granddaughter.
I found out that Ms. Judith had worked in Labor and Delivery, a passion of mine, and I asked her to tell me quickly, without thinking too hard about it, about a memorable birth. She replied, “A woman was crowning, and one of the nurses fainted. She was out cold. So, we slid her under the bed and went on delivering the baby.” That was not exactly what I had in mind, but it was a great story, and we both laughed. By the way, one of her favorite TV programs is “Call the Midwife,” and it’s one of mine as well.
Like me, she also experienced a divorce, and she said, “It was devastating.” I replied, “I wouldn’t wish divorce on anyone.” However, she went on to remarry, was happy, and even in spite of the accident, has lived a full life. In April of 2013 it became apparent that she was going to need long term care, and she came to Athens Rehab and Senior Care. I asked her if she had a tough time making the adjustment, and she speedily said, “Oh, no! I had known for a long time that I was going to need to be in a facility, and I love it here!” She has some favorite nurses, Tasha, Carrie and Sandra, and the Activities staff. She loves to play UNO, Chicken Foot dominoes, Mexican Train dominoes, and enjoys the lemonade socials and going out on the porch.
Some of the residents are able to go out on field trips, and, in addition to an occasional visit to the movies, she enjoys going by bus to the sites of some of the old homes that were formerly lived in by current Athens Rehab residents.
So here’s the list of her “faves.”
• Fave book? “Little Red Riding Hood” Don’t ask her why, she just loves it
• Color? Blue
• Food? Thanksgiving dressing
• Song? “How Great Thou Art”
• Presidents? George Washington and Ike
• Movie/TV Series? “Little House On The Prairie”
• Actress? Marilyn Monroe
• Actors? John Wayne and Elvis Presley
What is the biggest change you have seen in your life time? “Computers.” Advice for living well—“Being happy and having a lot of love in your heart.” Advice to young people? “Get a good education.” Favorite scripture? Who could argue with John 3:16, “For God so loved the world….” We recited it together, prayed, and resolved that we would let God use us, no matter what location or circumstances in which we found ourselves. I left, as I always do, thankful for my own health, and thankful that Athens Rehab and Senior Care is such a safe place for the vulnerable.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner