Regina Hargrove is one of the younger residents at Athens Rehab and Senior Care, having been born here in Athens in 1969. She graduated from East Limestone High School in 1989, and for about 6 years worked in day care. Then she began to contend with a rare disease called Hereditary Spastic Parapelegia, and within a few years was permanently confined to a wheelchair. HSP afflicts between 4 and 6 people per 100,000, and has a wide range of conditions associated with it. Many people live with it and have largely normal lives. Sadly, many others lose their mobility while still in their 20s or early 30s, as was the case with Regina. Several of her family members on her father’s side have battled this disease, including her grandmother, dad and uncle. For more information on HSP, go to www.sp-foundation.org.
At first her family took care of her at home, and then as the disease progressed, she required skilled nursing care in a facility. For a while, she was in a long term care center in Red Bay. She told me with emotion, “I wanted to come home.” Athens Rehab and Senior Care Center has been home for about six years now, and she is happy there. “My time at Rehab, (as she calls it,) has been good, and the people are good to me.” I asked her if there was anyone who had given her extra special care, and she simply said, “Rita.”
As to activities that are planned for the residents, she especially enjoys the coffee breaks. That’s when everyone gets together for coffee and a snack, and they visit in a relaxed atmosphere. She told me she likes it because it gives her a “chance to know people.” The Athens Rehab staff is constantly coming up with things for the residents to do. When I arrived, they were having their own version of “Grease Festival,” and were making deep fried Oreos. Regina’s were delivered to her while still piping hot. I asked her about her favorite game. “Bingo,” she said. I asked, “Do you win?” She replied with a shy smile, “Sometimes.” She also really likes to watch soap operas.
Anyone who is familiar with the Center knows that Regina’s room is one of the most unusual in the entire facility. It is painted lavender, and around three sides of her room is a border that shows all kinds of trendy and maybe even outrageous handbags—definitely “all girl.” Regina told me that Sara Wallace, the award-winning administrator of Athens Rehab, (and herself a lover of shoes and handbags,) picked out the color of the room, and Regina’s mom chose the “purse perimeter paper.”
When Regina was younger, she attended both First Union Baptist Church, as well as Westview Church of Christ. One of her favorite scriptures is Psalm 23.
Rounding out her list of favorites, we have the following:
Color—As stated above, purple, especially the shade of lavender.
Actress--Molly Ringwald (I told her that Molly was one of my husband’s favorites, too.)
Movie—Not surprisingly, because she is a Molly Ringwald fan, Sixteen Candles
Biggest change in her lifetime—Computers and the Internet
Before we took the pictures of her “facility-famous” lavender room, I asked her what advice she might have for young people. She thought for quite a long time, and then said with a gentle firmness, “Don’t tell lies.”
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner