By Stacy Smith

Ms. Diversicare of Boaz, Betty Smith, walks. She grew up walking to destinations, remains determined to walk, overcomes obstacles to walking, and she walks on.

Smith grew up on a 200-acre farm in Sand Valley, Alabama. Once a year, they would load their wagon with cotton picked to be bailed.

“We kids would get to ride on top of the harvest all the way to the cotton gin. After the cotton sold, we would buy our one pair of new shoes for the year. My mother was a good Christian woman who was always sure all of us kids went to church. We would walk to church bare footed. Then, when we got to church, Mamma would make us put our shoes on and take them back off before we walked home,” said Smith.

As a child, their family did not have money to buy decorations for their Christmas tree.

“We would use balls of cotton to decorate the tree. One Christmas when I was in third grade, at the Christmas break my teacher gave me all the beautiful ornaments from the school tree. That was one of my best Christmases ever. I was so proud to show my family how beautiful our tree was,” said Smith.

She married Roy Smith, and for 50 years they shared life adventures. He was in the Navy, and she worked in retail sales. They lived in Evansville, Indiana, for 20 years, in Chicago, Illinois, for two years, and in Corpus Christi, Texas, for one year. Along the way, they made many life-long friends. They would spend weeks at a time at Panama City Beach, Florida. After his military service, they moved back to their home state of Alabama.

Smith has four children, 12 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. She was president of the P.T.A. and a seamstress. She made all of the color guard uniforms for Sardis High School.

“I always took care of all the neighborhood kids. I would fix them something to eat and play ball with them,” said Smith.

A high school basketball player herself, she was very good at the game. When her grandson was about to drop out of school, she moved him in to live with her.

“I made sure he got a good education, and as a result he now has a very good job,” said Smith.

When she was in her fifties and after limping for more than two years, her doctor said she needed a total hip replacement.

“I worried and prayed about how I could do that and take care of the family. I was determined to recover quickly and broke the record at the hospital for no pain medications and walking on my own in just four days!” said Smith.

Time passed and before she came to Diversicare last year, she again could not walk.

“I had to wear pull ups, my speech was not clear, and I never got out of my nightgown. Since living at Diversicare, I can walk again. I am independent in toileting, and my speech is clear. I wake up every morning, put on makeup, and get dressed with a purpose. Being here has definitely increased by socialization with others. Being a resident in the nursing home really saved my life,” said Smith.

“Betty Smith is such an inspiration to our Center. She brightens everyone’s day with her knowledge and wisdom,” said Ethan Hall, Administrator at Diversicare of Boaz.

“I am an encourager. I believe everyone has a purpose in life. I enjoy making sure everyone knows that they are special. Even as an 85-year-old woman, I can still make a difference in people’s lives. Just because you are in a nursing home does not mean that your life is over, or that you have to give up on things that you enjoy. The sky is the limit. Anything is possible,” said Smith.

Editor’s note: This is the third story in a 10-part series about the finalists for the 2019 Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant. On July 18, we’ll post a story about Ms. Falkville Health Care Center Carolyn Daniels.

Stacy Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA, is a freelance writer based in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant is July 29. Click here for more information.