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Mrs. Rose

I meet with a group of women once a month. We share an interest in embroidery.

When we gather, we show off our finished projects and our works in progress (WIP). We have all stitched generic kits, but each one of us has at least one truly personal project in our lives, either completed, in progress, or just in our heads.

Susan was at her first gathering yesterday. She brought “Mrs. Rose,” her major WIP. This is a somewhat famous piece in the stitching blog world.

Susan told us the story of Mrs. Rose.

When she was in junior high school Susan had to do community service. She chose to go to a local nursing home a few days a week after school. Susan already spent time with her grandmother, and her spinster aunts, and her grumpy uncle, so she was well prepared for what she would find at the nursing home.

One day she met a new patient, Mrs. Rose. Mrs. Rose welcomed Susan and invited her to sit down and talk. At some point in the conversation Mrs. Rose asked Susan if she wanted a tissue. Susan said no. Again, Mrs. Rose asked if she wanted a tissue. Three of four more times Mrs. Rose asked if she wanted a tissue. Susan finally said yes.

Mrs. Rose got very excited about this. She got up, went across the room, got a tissue, came back, ironed the tissue flat on her lap with her hands, and then carefully folded it up, pressing the folds tight with her hands. She then handed the tissue to Susan as if it were a present.

This became a ritual for them when Susan visited. Susan came to understand that when people go into a nursing home they leave everything behind, they have nothing to share with visitors. The tissue was the one things Mrs. Rose had to share.

Susan went on to help design nursing homes, and her tribute to Mrs. Rose was to make sure that there was a hospitality center stocked with juice and cookies, so that when a patient had a visitor there was always something available for them to offer to their guests.

Susan continued to volunteer at the nursing home long after her school requirement was up, and had many experiences which taught her that the smallest act, the simplest word can have a tremendous, often unknown, impact on someone.

Who is your Mrs. Rose? What impact did she or he have on your life?

- Ann Warner


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