One of our favorite things about doing our morning radio show on KISS96.9 was the interaction we had with callers. We had many regulars who would check in with us, respond to our polls, and share with us humorous and touching stories of their own. They became dear friends to us, even though we had never met face to face. One of our favorite buds that we got to know over the course of the show was Luann “LuLu”, and this week we went to visit her at her nursing facility where she is a resident. It was a long overdue meeting thanks to Covid and hectic schedules, but we were finally able to make it happen, and we are so glad we did. We walked away with some unexpected blessings.
Let me start off by saying that to know Luann is to love her. She is one of the most vibrant personalities we have come across and considering all the fantastic people we have encountered, that’s really saying something! Originally from Gary, Indiana (the birthplace of Michael Jackson she is quick to add), she moved here to be closer to her brother and his family following a stroke over a decade ago. While the stroke has affected her ability to move and speak fluently, she hasn’t let it stop her from living her best life. While at the nursing facility, Luann has made every effort to engage in and help plan fun activities for the residents. There’s not just bingo on Thursdays! No way! Whether it’s art class, outings to restaurants or shopping, or her favorite activity, the penny auction, Luann throws everything she has into making the most of the experience. Her kindness and concern for others is evident, too, as she makes sure everyone is included and having a good time. She is very much the life of the party!
Luann was thrilled to see us show up at her door and we felt like royalty as she took us around, introduced us to her friends and the staff. She had told us in advance that she would be wearing black and red and asked us to do the same, which of course we were happy to oblige. We brought her a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a Pentatonix CD because during Christmas she would often call requesting we play their rendition of “Mary, Did You Know”. Her face lit up as she opened her gift and admired the flowers. After touring her room and chatting a while, she ushered us down the hallway to the activity room where she had arranged the staff to have cupcakes in our honor. (She obviously knows about my love of cake!) It was such a treat to sit with her and her friends, hear about what they enjoy, and learn a little bit about them. They were genuinely happy to have us visiting and we felt so welcome.
Once our cake time was over, we returned to Luann’s room for to take pictures, and it was then she wanted to give us the presents she had been working on for us over the past couple of months. Beaming with joy, she handed over two very large gift bags stuffed with an assortment of items. We felt like she had totally outgifted us, but she assured us that putting the gift bags together with the help of the staff, had brought her so much pleasure. We graciously accepted them and promised we would go through them together when we returned to the office. After walking us to the door, we kissed Luann, hugged her neck and promised we would come back to see her very soon. Her smiling face told us she would probably be counting down the days until our return.
Driving away from the home, I felt I had come away with more than just a giant bag of gifts and a warm fuzzy feeling. We had gone there as a kind gesture for someone who had been incredibly nice to us, but walked away with much more than what we had given to Luann. Spending time with her made us realize several things:
1) No matter your circumstance, there’s always something for which to be grateful.
2) To be happier, find joy in the simple pleasures of life.
3) It’s so important to cherish your friends, old and new.
And if you’re curious about what was in the gift bag, there was a LOT! Inspirational quotes, jokes, Luann’s personal artwork, handmade jewelry, beauty items, snacks and a throw blanket. My favorite thing was the handwritten note written on the back of a “You’re a Star” card.