By Stacy Smith

“This is awesome! I’ve got to learn what all I’m supposed to do,” confided Ann Trucks moments after being awarded the crown as Ms. Alabama Nursing Home 2019.

Her daughter Becky Freeman said, “We had no clue she was entering her local nursing home pageant. We went crazy with excitement when she told us.”

Ms. Alabama Nursing Home 2019 Ann Trucks celebrates with her family.

Mama A, as Ann Trucks likes to be called at Woodland Village Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Cullman, phoned her daughters in March to tell them not only had she entered the local pageant, but she had won it.

Trucks explains that she feels people get the wrong impression about nursing homes. “It’s wonderful. It’s a pleasure for me for live in a nursing home,” said Trucks.

She and her husband Jerry moved into Woodland Village more than a year ago. Last year, Jerry passed away, and the grief was heavy on Ann Trucks.

“My pastor told me, ‘Always look for the good.’ After my husband died, it was hard. All of my kids work. If I had moved in to live with one of them, I would have been in their home alone, watching TV and crying. At Woodland Village, I am helping other residents, and feel I’m put here for a reason,” said Trucks.

Every year, Woodland Village hosts a local pageant with interviews and a beauty walk in the dining room.

“She was nervous about the pageant. We encouraged Mama A to enter because we know how good she is with the other residents,” said Mary Tilley, Regional Director and Activities Director of Woodland Village.

Serving as Ms. Woodland Village qualified Trucks as a contestant in the statewide Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant. Three weeks before the statewide pageant, Mama A was notified that she was a finalist. Then, there was the trying on of outfits – many, many outfits. Also, she had her first manicure.

“We are still waiting to receive her interview outfit that we ordered! We stayed upbeat, and had fun participating,” laughed April Smith, Activity Assistant, Woodland Village.

“She really got frou-froued up. She’s not had a moment like this probably since her wedding 57 years ago,” said her daughter Christie Burrow.

Since Mama A loves stuffed animals, on the morning of the pageant her daughters visited Build-A-Bear to build her a bear with a crown. They named it Queenie.

According to her daughters, these experiences have made Mama A more outgoing. “She was blowing kisses, and I was thinking, ‘Mom, where did this come from?’” said Burrow.

Earlier this year, Burrow visited Trucks at the nursing home and watched Mama A play in a game of bocce ball. “I didn’t even know what bocce ball was,” said Burrow.

Nor had Trucks heard of bocce ball before moving into the nursing home. “I like to play. Another nursing home came over, and we had a bocce ball competition. We played two games. We won one, and they won one,” said Trucks.

Ms. Alabama Nursing Home 2019 Ann Trucks with members of Woodland Village’s Activity Department.

Adept at making everyone feel like a winner, Mama A continues to learn, get involved, and be a good sport.

“I have a second family at Woodland Village. It is my home, and in your home you want to make people comfortable, secure and happy,” said Trucks.

“Dad passed away one year ago this month. I expect Mama to stay busy and love every minute of her reign as queen this year. She’s going to be a strong spokesperson for people across the state. She loves her second family at the nursing home. She is Mama A, in her words, and Mama A doesn’t meet strangers. She taught us that. It’s going to be a good year,” said Burrow.

Editor’s Note: Stacy Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA, is a freelance writer based in Birmingham, Ala.