Opal's Story, In Her Own Words

It was on a bright, sunny afternoon in September, 1967, that I first arrived at the King’s Daughters and Son’s Nursing Home – known at that time as the “Home of the Incurables.” I arrived at 1:05 pm in the afternoon. I was nervous. I had never been in a nursing home before, only to visit. I had come in two months earlier to put my application in. It was so hard to leave my home that day. I left my daddy crying, but I knew it had to be that way - for personal and family reasons. When we arrived, we came through the back entrance and up the elevator into the Social Workers office. Her name was Dorothy Lincoln. I’ll never forget her. She was a very sweet person and a wonderful friend. We talked and signed the necessary paperwork. She then called the Administrator. His name was Charley Snow; a tall, thin, nice looking man. He lived near my hometown. We had a lot in common so we just sat and talked awhile. It was relaxing talking to them both. Miss Lincoln took us upstairs to my room; a three bedded ward. My roommates were two very nice ladies. A nurse and a nurse’s aide helped me to get settled in. One of the aides took me on a tour of the building. I met other patients and employees. Everyone was so friendly and nice. Before I knew it, it was time to go down for supper. Everything as new to me and I didn’t want to get lost on my first day. When we came downstairs, we went out on the patio. There were several other patients out there. I didn’t know any of them except for Mattie, so I just sat there like a bump on a log. I was so shy and bashful. Richard Dugan came over and asked Mattie; “Doesn’t your friend ever talk?” I chirped in; “Oh, I do once in a while.” Supper was soon served. To pass away the time until bedtime, we went out in the hall, talked to our neighbors and had a good time. Before long it was bedtime. Me and Mattie talked a little more, watched a little T.V. and then went to sleep.

The days eventually turned into routines. I learned my way around, became acquainted with everyone, and began to love everyone and before long, it began to feel like home. My friend Mattie would go to physical Therapy every day. I wanted to go also. A few weeks later, I received an order to begin Physical Therapy. That made me very happy because by then I had made friends with the people that worked in that department. I walked as many as 50 rounds in the parallel bars. I also rode a stationary bicycle. That was a lot of work but I knew it was good for my body so I didn’t mind. Each morning, when I would go down to therapy, my boyfriend would be sitting at the window reading his newspaper (only then, I didn’t yet know he was going to be my boyfriend)
We also had a wonderful little craft shop in our building. It was open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. We were paid $25.00 per week and received a percentage of anything that we made. I learned to weave place mats. We had a wonderful teacher.  We had people who did different things. Some were quilters, and other weaved rugs on the big loom and I would work the small loom. I also loved using decoupage. If you want to know what that is…just visit me in my room and I will show you some of the items I have created over the years. We had a lot of fun with our work. One Friday each month we would watch a movie in house. It was during one of these movies that Richard Dugan rolled up beside Mattie and put his arm around her. She squirmed and giggles. You would have had to know Mattie back then to know what I’m trying to say and you would have to know Richard. He was a person who wanted to make people smile and laugh. Our days’ work would usually end around 3:00 p.m. Three or four of us would linger for our “scout meeting” Perhaps we would discuss something that had happened that day, or maybe something personal. Regardless, this would be called our “solve the worlds’ problems hour”. Years ago it seemed like an event to go to meals, especially to breakfast or lunch. We had a resident who lived here who would always give us some big story on the food that we were going to be served (we knew it was a wild story). He would tell us we were going to have fried chicken, gravy, mashed potatoes, pork chops, good ole’ turnip greens, cornbread, ham and red eyed gravy or anything else that he could tell us to make our mouths water. He soon passed this life - and we missed those wild stories.

Days, weeks, months and years have now passed. This is my home and I love it here very much. Even though I have thought many times of what it would be like to leave, I probably never will. I do remember the fonder times when Richard and I would wheel up the road to Ether’s, or watching the fireworks from outside our patio, and even a few picnics that we would have outside. Now, for the best thing that ever happened to me… Speaking of Richard…I met Richard Dugan, or he met me the very first day that I arrived here.  He later told me that he and a friend were sitting on the back patio watching me as I got out of the car. Guess I must have raised a little spark or perhaps a big one, because from that day on, he had his eye on me. He wanted to know everything about me, my habits, likes, dislikes, just about everything you could think of. It actually took several weeks for us to get together. We started by playing BINGO together. At that time, there was three other couples living here and we would all get together and play cards every Friday. We had so much fun. I will never forget the good ole’ days filled with all of those happy memories. We were together for 19 wonderful years. He was my whole world. We did everything together including going to church and sitting side by side in our wheelchairs. We were in this together. Richard has said that before I came along, he wasn’t much of a church person but, to be with me he would go. After a while, all that changed. He loved going as much as I did. That was what I wanted. We both loved the Lord. Richard and I both knew that a farewell day was coming. On April 17, 1986, it happened. Richard was taken to the hospital and April 16th, and he passed away on the 17th. Needless to say, I was just heart broken.

I was so glad that my friends were with me on this sad day of my life. Now all I have left is my sweet, precious memories. The rose bush still blooms on the back patio that Richard’s family gave him as a gift for his birthday to celebrate out togetherness. We made a pact with one another that whoever went first we would pick one rose for each year that we were together. Richard received 19 roses on his day to be with God. After all these years I still love to go out by the rose bush on the patio as this always brings back those happy, special memories of that very happy time in my life. I always feel him close to me when those roses begin to bloom. I have had many friends during my years here as most of them have drifted away I am left with only their memories.

I want to finally mention another wonderful friend who played a large part in my life. Her name is Geraldine. She used to live upstairs and worked full time at the front desk. That was before the new building was built on Norris. She was also me from the upstairs window as I got out of the car that day so many years ago. When I became acquainted and more used to getting around the building I would go down and talk to her. She also knew Richard and she would cook us both meals; especially things that she knew we both liked. I just can’t say enough about what a dear, special friend she has been to me. We went through the tornado together. I’ll never forget her standing over my head and praying that God would protect us and that everything would be alright. We shared many happy times as well as sad times together over the years.

The new building was finished in 1979. I moved to the building in 1980. This was a really hard adjustment for me. I was used to going to bed when I wanted to and getting up when I wanted to and I had a private room. All that would soon end for a while. It felt so strange coming to a new room, having a roommate and all the different roles and routines. I cried all day long. The reason that I needed these changes was that I had some really hard falls and my Doctor thought it would be better if I could be in an area where I could have more help. I have come through hardships, struggles, happy times, sad times, joy, pain, and sorrow. However, if I could sum it all up I would certainly say – there is always hope in “TOMORROW.”
— Opal Grubbs (July 1, 1934 - October 1, 2011)

Thank You, Opal!