Who says it’s all down hill once you reach a certain age? There’s still plenty of great living to do in our autumns of life. In fact, we can all learn a thing or two from this fabulous lady, Verna Branscom, who was crowned Ms. Emeritus in 2011 and is living life to its fullest every day!
Look at her picture. Verna looks like the Queen of England! This lovely lady who started as a country girl in Kentucky, traveled as a Navy wife, had four beautiful children and became a licensed practical nurse, continues to have adventures every day—even at the ripe age of 76.
Verna’s good nature brings smiles to those around her and she continues to win the hearts of many, exemplified by her Ms. Emeritus title last year at her assisted living community. Learn more about this interesting lady by reading her story below…
By Guest Author: Donna Stephens
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My mom, Verna Branscom, was born in a small town in Harlan County Kentucky in 1936. Her father was a coal miner and she had four siblings. Life was hard, food was scarce and winters were cold. In fact, mom’s family only had enough money for winter shoes, and not the rest of the gear, to keep them warm.
When mom was 16, she married my father, John Branscom, who served in the Navy for 22 years. Their early years involved a lot of traveling; mostly to remote areas including Midway Island and Adak Alaska, to name a few. Mom and Dad had four children, and I am the youngest.
When Mom was 40 years old she returned to school and became a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN), which she enjoyed thoroughly (and has many great stories to tell!). She and my Dad were happily married for 52 years when my dad passed away in 2005. This is when things got hard…
Mom lived alone about 20 minutes away from me. My siblings and I were noticing signs of her ‘forgetfulness’ and started to discuss long-term care plans. In 2009, mom was diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s disease, but we still weren’t ready to make any big decisions. Then I received a call at work on May 25th 2010 from the bank where mom had gone, and they told me “the ambulance is on the way, your mom passed out and fell.” I ran home and got my daughter and rushed to the hospital. It turns out that mom’s blood pressure had dropped—which caused the fall—and the fall had caused a compression fracture in her lower spine. She was in the cardiac unit at the hospital for 10 days and in rehab for 5 weeks. I went to see her everyday…
In the meantime, moms attorney had given me the phone number for A Place for Mom. I don’t think I could have survived this emotional and difficult time without their assistance. They were so supportive and reassuring and provided financial resources in addition to care and housing information. My daughter and I toured numerous assisted living facilities and fell in love with Emeritus of Hemet. The transition was so smooth, and mom even says “I haven’t had a bad day here yet.”
Mom being the country girl she was—loved gardening and cooking—was never into wearing makeup, dressing fancy or wearing lots of jewelry. But she was elected to run in the first annual Ms. Emeritus Pageant, and one of her caregivers was her sponsor and even helped her practice her talent, which was singing “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” Her sponsor let her borrow a beautiful dress for the “Beauty” part of the pageant. Mom was so excited.
The big pageant day arrived, and the community cottage was all decked out. There were select judges from the local community, and mom did great on her singing (I was in the audience reminding her the words). Not to mention, she looked BEAUTIFUL!! And she won Ms. Emeritus 2011. She still says she hasn’t had a bad day yet! A great big Thank You to A Place for Mom for your assistance in making this life-altering situation easier to deal with and giving mom wonderful activities and exciting life to look forward to.
Do you have any senior living stories you’d like to share? If so, we’d love to hear in the comments section below!