The Good People of Enid

by John C. Westervelt

I spent the last week of April in Enid when Maude Purnell, my mother-in-law, was at St. Mary’s hospital with a fractured pelvis. During the week before she fell in her home where she lived alone, the 100-year-old worked in the gift shop at St. Mary’s on Monday and quilted at Bethany UMC on Tuesday.

Every Thursday Bret Whinery, Paul Denny, Tom Stout, Bob Greenshaw, or Gail Novak came in a Central Christian church van to take Maude to the grocery store. Over time these friendship deepened so that Bret and Barbara, not wanting Maude to be alone on Easter, invited her to their home for dinner.

For many years, Joy Robinson called Maude each morning to be sure she had had a safe night. When Joy was unable to reach Maude on Sunday morning, she went by Central Christian church to see if she could find her. Bob Greenhaw, a Sunday van driver, drove up saying he could not get Maude to respond to her doorbell. Joy, Bob, and Jerry Goodale left for Maude’s with Bret Whinery following in his car. When Joy could not get Maude’s attention from her front door, she called Barney Barnes who joined the others on Maude’s porch.

As Bret removed the last of two dozen screws from the storm door frame, he caught a glimpse of Maude through the glass lying on the dining room floor. He jerked the storm door off and found the inner door unlocked. Bret rushed to her side, lay on the floor, and stroked Maude until the ambulance came. Supper dishes on the table indicated that Maude was on the floor for about fourteen hours.

During the week, a steady stream of St. Mary’s volunteers stopped by Maude’s room to visit and leave gifts. Pastors and Caregivers from Central Christian came to visit and drop off flowers. Dr Matousek was attentive to her pain. The St. Mary’s staff, first on the third floor and later on the skilled nursing floor, were equally considerate.

Family came from Houston, Plano, Tulsa, Overland Park, and Hawaii for a previously planned 100th birthday party on Saturday night. The St. Mary’s volunteers had a card party on Monday afternoon. Forgetting about the wheelchair and her pain, Mom shared a greeting and a warm smile with each guest.

For years Maude had walked two blocks to Susan Oldham’s beauty shop every Friday. On Saturday morning before the party, Susan and her mother, Gladys Weast, came to St. Mary’s to do Maude’s hair. I tried to pay Susan, but she insisted that this was her birthday gift to her dear friend.

I asked Vicki at Central Christian if she could find a couple of young men to help move Maude’s furniture on Saturday afternoon to the Methodist Home. Butch Phillip sent his sons James and Brian. They brought Jacob Garrison. Maude’s grandson, great-grandson, and grandnephew completed the crew. While the men took the furniture, the women selected the clothes and room accessories.

No one wants a loved one to be in pain, especially not in a distant city. If an accident has inflicted such pain, I can think of no better place for comfort than among the good people of Enid.

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