Feb. 17, 2017 – West Bend, WI – It’s an overcast Thursday morning and Lucille Christianson is wheeling herself through the hallway on the third floor of the Samaritan Home.
Her soft pink slippers push along the flat carpet. It’s a slow process although Lucille is in no hurry.
It’s easy to spot Lucille, her name is in big, bold letters on the back of her wheelchair. I shout her name and she looks up. A nurse caretaker hands me a small microphone that’s attached to her headphones. It makes for much easier communication.
“I understand you’re going to be 103 years old,” I yell into the microphone.
Lucille nods as if it’s no big deal. Just another day.
We return to her room and chat. The microphone squeals as I shout and try to maneuver the small black box to reduce the feedback.
Lucille is soft spoken and admittedly a bit confused. She said she grew up on a farm in the area, the family had cows which meant she had chores …. the rest is a little foggy.
Born in 1914 when Woodrow Wilson was president of the United States, Lucille recalls very little. A gold frame with the number 50 sits on the windowsill. There’s a photo of Lucille and her husband Phil. The date reads October 20, 1931.
A family member has sent a photo of Lucille and Phil in their prime. The couple sit on the bumper of a car in a happy embrace.
Lucille’s family is working on a goodwill project as they try to rally 103 birthday cards to help her celebrate her 103rd birthday on Feb. 18.
There are already piles of cards on a nearby coffee table. We sift through a few and I read the notes aloud.
One person asks Lucille who the president was when she was born. Another handmade card features a cake with 103 candles on top.
Lucille puts her hands to her face and starts to cry.
“I don’t even know these people and they took the time to send me a birthday card,” she said.
It’s hard to tell, but she said it makes her happy.
I try to distract Lucille and ask her what kind of cake she’ll have. “Plain vanilla,” she said.
Mostly, she’d like her family to visit but she said she “understands.”
If you would like to help make Lucille’s day special you can send her a birthday card too.
Cards can be mailed to Lucille Christianson, Samaritan Health Center 531 E. Washington St., West Bend, WI 53095