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60/20 Tour: Welcome to Newton, An Amazing Vet and Harry Caray

Bedford Care Center of Newton

MS State Veterans Home Jackson

The Blake at Flowood

After our one-day jaunt through Alabama,  it’s time to tackle Mississippi!  We have a crazy day planned:  three visits, and a few hundred miles of driving.  It’s odd how normal this all feels. When I try to explain it to random bystanders, they think I’m crazy.

The day starts in the quiet, rustic world of Newton, Mississippi, and we are met with another phenomenal, warm greeting from the folks at Bedford Care Center of Newton. As was the case with Adams yesterday, it’s a community that doesn’t attempt to blow you away with their aesthetics. They blow you away with their heart and the incredible synergy between the staff and residents.  They had a resident “greeter” ready for me – Ms. Valentine. She escorted me into the community where the staff and residents were waiting with their birthday wishes in full force. I’m keeping track,  this was birthday party # 65!  Francis loves to hang with the staff and residents in the deep south, there is an almost spiritual kinship to the feelings in his villages and the connection between generations.  We take a fun trip through Newton, a city that brings you back to a simpler time and a simpler life.

Then we head up the road to Jackson to visit the Mississippi State Veterans Home, and old buddy Dorris Ricks.  I love the Vet homes; this is number six on the tour.  Dorris is a longtime friend and iN2L advocate, he looks right at home getting the community in shape for our cruise and croon.  Like we did at the Long Island State Vet Home, we got a lot of vets and staff out in front of the community singing the National Anthem – incredible energy!  We did some cruise and croon runs with the vets and James in particular, left an indelible mark.  A younger guy,  he had been a green beret and paratrooper.  He came back to the U.S. and took on the rodeo. He even writes poetry –  the total renaissance man. He’s another example of a reason to be proud that we live in this country.

Our final stop of the day was at a Blake community in Jackson. Marilyn had her staff wound up.  We had a baseball-themed party,  with a cruise and croon that was all about the Cubs. Our resident cruiser was transformed through some thick glasses into Harry Caray. He was a character with a lot of stories. We could have enjoyed a bourbon together.  I do like the rides where it’s just one resident because you get a chance to frame a life well-lived.  The Blake communities are all about smiles; every building of theirs I’ve been to has a joyous attitude.  Marilyn,  I’d go out singing with you anytime!

Time to head to Tupelo!

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