Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Gift of Words

I opened my latest McMurry University alumni magazine last night, and started flipping through.  The words "Lila Senter" jumped off the page.  I was flooded with the memories of the summer I worked with Lila at Hospice of Abilene--while completing my second internship for my Masters in Social Work.  That experience at Hospice was one of the most significant of my life, and the early formative years in my career as a social worker.

Lila was involved with the volunteer program, and I would have occasion to make home visits with her over the course of the 3 months I spent completing my internship hours.  During the course of that summer, I would get to know a lot about the people who staffed the small office (Hospice was a relatively new concept at that time).  Lila, like the other social workers and nurses and chaplains who staffed the program--many of them volunteers--was kind, gracious, and caring, but also much fun to work with.  My grandfather was fatally injured during that summer internship, and I think that the experiences and caring to help me deal with my grief were instrumental in my personal and professional grief during that time of my life.

In addition to the many other experiences that I recall from that summer, I remember a new "fashion trend" that I adopted from Lila, and the head nurse, Libby.  At that point in my life, I had always worn high heels--we are talking the 3 inch high heel--it was just my preferred footwear--mostly closed toes/closed heel classic pumps, but 3 inch heels nonetheless.  One day at Hospice, and I knew that was not going to work, along with the short, straight skirts I preferred.  Much of the day took place standing at the side of a bed, or sitting on the side of a bed, needing to reach across, bend over, help someone walk or stand.

Lila and Libby both wore plain white Keds canvas tennis shoes--the old fashioned kind, with crew socks folded.  Sometimes the socks were white, but often, it was two pair of crews of different colors, and the tops scrunched instead of folded, with just a portion of the different color showing.  Skirts were long, flowing, allowing for graceful maneuvering while engaged in caregiving activity.  I adored them both, and how classic they looked each day.

While reading the article, Lila mentioned receiving a "word gift" from Professor Caroline Couch Blair--whom I also had for speech classes.  Professor Blair was amazing in front of the classroom, and the memory I have most strongly of her is one of her standing, teaching us to pivot while speaking.  The lesson must have stuck, I still pivot.  Of her gift from Professor Blair, Lila said,
I had always been enchanted with the magic of words and this was a unique and wondrous gift.
Lila has now presented her own gift of words, in a recently published book, appropriately called The Gift, and it contains a collection of word gifts from her to family over the years, and art and photography.  The sales of the book benefit Abilene Hope Haven, established 20 years ago and still in the business of helping end homelessness.  You can order a copy from the publisher link on Hope Haven website.  Perhaps you know someone who appreciates the gift of words, or just want to give a gift that passes on along with the present itself.


Beth said...

What a beautiful legacy these two ladies offered you to guide you and shape you into the person you were meant to be! Indeed, words are a gift that is often over looked!

Suzassippi said...

Thanks--I think so, too.