By Stacy Smith

Miriam Kelley knows how to party, and has a few stories to tell and a few decorations to make for any occasion.

For Halloween, she cut out bats to decorate Folsom Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare (FCRHC), and handed out candy to the trick or treaters. This past February, staff voted her Valentine’s Day Queen. Recently, she assisted with the center yard sale fundraiser. She has a morning newspaper route, distributing the paper at the center.

Approximately two years ago, she broke her hip. Her doctor told her that she would not be able to walk again. “I am stubborn and would not accept that answer,” said Kelley. “I came to FCRHC for rehabilitation, and was determined to walk again, and I did.”

Her children offered for her to live with them. “I said, ‘No!’ I love living here. Being a resident here has allowed me to make a lot of friends. Living here gives me purpose every day,” said Kelley.

She has four children, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She has lived at FCRHC for two years, and serves as the Resident Council vice-president. Her favorite activities are playing bocce ball, playing bingo and cooking. She is passionate about the center’s vegetable garden.

“She is the driving force behind our beloved vegetable garden,” said Shana Marsh, Activity Director.

Since she was a teenager and off and on for nearly 40 years, Kelley worked at Kuhns Five and Dime Store in Cullman. While she truly admired her father, Daniel Coggins, and says he did instill in her the importance of always telling the truth, yet she recalls a time when she could not reconcile his teachings with her Southern manners.

Kelley remembers when her friend and co-worker Peggy hosted a party at her house. At the party, Peggy began passing out alcoholic beverages, and Kelley didn’t drink. She was sitting by one of Peggy’s prized house plants. Kelley didn’t want to be rude. So, when no one was looking, Kelley poured her drink in the house plant. A few days later Peggy came to Kelley and said to her, “Guess what? That plant of mine you liked so much … it died.” Kelley was mortified.

“I didn’t tell her I killed it,” Kelley said.

“Ms. Kelley is witty, and can make people laugh so hard that they cry. She is spunky and has a heart of gold,” said Marsh.

At the time of this writing, she is in the middle of planning a baby shower for one of the FCRHC employees.

Editor’s note: This is the fourth story in a 10-part series about the finalists for the 2017 Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant. On July 21, we’ll post a story about Ms. Haleyville Health & Rehab Center Edna Everly.

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

For more information about the pageant, click here.