Touching Lives Stories
Ruth’s Story: Celebrating Faith and Family at Heritage Woods
At 100 years old, you will never find Ruth in one spot for more than a few minutes. She is always out mingling and being friendly.
When Ruth celebrated her 100th birthday, all her family and friends came to Heritage Woods of Benton to celebrate. There were dozens of relatives that traveled from all the surrounding states. Ruth says she even had family that came all the way from Tennessee and Ohio.
Ruth grew up in the country near Mt. Vernon after moving from Michigan when she was just a child. At 12 years old, she had to start making a living, and she got her first job at a tavern. Not long after, she began a career as a singer. She even had a talent agent. She sang all over the Midwest. Ruth decided that was no longer for her, and she wanted to sing only in church. “I never enjoyed singing anywhere as much as I did singing in the church.” Her husband preached to different churches in the area for almost 40 years, and she traveled with him. After he passed away, her family didn’t want her to be alone, so she moved to Heritage Woods. She has been at Heritage Woods of Benton since 2011. Ruth now spends her time enjoying all the activities, going to church, and socializing with the other residents.
Touching Lives Stories
Pete’s Story: Sharing His Love for His Wife and Our Country
At 94 years old, Pete has his share of stories.
He served aboard an aircraft carrier during World War II and later had a career in the coal mining industry. But one of Pete’s favorites stories to share is that of his courtship with Ruth, his high school sweetheart and future wife.
Pete and Ruth grew up on the same street and were in the same class throughout grade school. They began dating in high school, but Ruth was shy and didn’t like to show affection in public. After graduation, Pete was drafted into the Navy. As he was preparing to ship out, Pete was surprised when Ruth hugged and kissed him in front of both their families and promised to wait for him.
His job required him that he work in the engine room of the ship 30 feet below the water.
“I was just a kid,” Pete said. “There were times I cried and times I prayed to the Lord just to let me see my Mom and Dad and Ruthie one more time.”
When the war ended four years later, Pete returned home.
“I was lucky. I didn’t have a scratch on me,” he said.
And true to her word, Ruth waited. The couple spent 52 years together and raised three sons before Ruth’s death in 1999.
Pete stayed in their West Frankfort home until a stroke in 2015 made it impossible for him to live alone any longer.
Worried about their father’s health, Pete’s sons came from across the country to research assisted living options in Southern Illinois. After talking with residents at several communities, they agreed that Heritage Woods of Benton was the right fit for their Dad.
Now, Pete spends his days reminiscing and sharing stories with his new neighbors.
Linda’s Story: Embracing a Carefree Lifestyle to Help Others
Linda has spent her life taking care of others, and when she moved to Heritage Woods of Benton four years ago, she finally had someone to take care of her.
Our community takes care of the cooking, housekeeping and laundry, which leaves Linda with time to do what she loves: helping others.
The kids call her Grandma Linda. She has been a volunteer at Benton Grade School for four years. She was introduced to the program shortly after she settled into our community. Someone from the organization encouraged her to apply. She already had experience as a caretaker for her late husband and was even volunteering three afternoons a week in our Country Store.
“I love volunteering,” Linda says. “I don’t have to do it, but I want to do it.”
Just like many of the children she helps, Linda rides a bus to and from school each day. This year, she’s working with 2nd grade students, listening to them read.
For Linda, the best part of her job is seeing the children grow and learn.
“At the start of the school year, they need help,” she said, “but by the end, they can do it themselves.”
When school’s not in session, Linda enjoys shopping, taking trips with her family, and playing piano for her church and the Heritage Woods Kitchen Band.
She says she doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon.
“I’ll keep doing it as long as I’m able.” Linda said. “It keeps my mind working.”
Joyce’s Story: Finding Happiness at Heritage Woods of Benton
Always active, mingling with residents and staff, and taking part in evening pinochle games, it is hard to believe that Joyce has only been at Heritage Woods of Benton for nine months. It’s even harder to believe the self-described “sassy” senior once battled severe depression.
Before moving to Heritage Woods, Joyce spent 22 hours a day alone in her West Frankfort apartment. For a year, she relied on the help of home health services. She didn’t go out, didn’t get dressed and didn’t even put in her dentures. “I wasn’t sure they would even fit, it had been so long,” she remembers.
Concerned, family members sought care for Joyce and began researching other housing options. That search brought her son, Brian, to Heritage Woods.
Oddly enough, our neighborhood was not far from where she used to work.
“I worked at the hospital down the road and had no idea this place was here,” Joyce told us.
When she first arrived at Heritage Woods of Benton, Joyce was in a wheelchair. She was unable to do many daily activities, including showering, on her own. In a few short months, Joyce flourished, taking on many tasks herself and using a walker.
Brian and his wife, Cassie, recently helped Joyce decorate her apartment, and she loves to show off her studio to anyone who considers a supportive living environment like ours.
Joyce credits her family and our community with restoring her love of life.
“My son has his Mom back,” she said. “He told me, “You’re finally my Mom again’”