By Stacy Smith

While dating, doing-good, or dancing, you may find Ms. Keller Landing, Shelby Gene Hill, enjoying her golden years to the full.

At 71-years-old and after a major stroke, she has been a resident of Keller Landing for more than three years.

“The nursing home showed me another way of life. When you are given a second chance at life, you need to make the best of it,” said Ms. Hill.

“When she arrived at the nursing home, she could not speak, walk or hardly eat. She is very determined to thrive,” said Ginger McFall, Activity Director at Keller Landing.

“I guess they thought I was going to die. I was determined to prove them wrong. The stroke I had was very bad. Thanks to the love and care I received from all the wonderful staff, I not only survived, I learned to walk, talk and eat again,” said Hill.

She enjoys being with fellow residents and staff. She credits participating in daily activities as what motivated her to get up and get going. She participates in the resident council, helps serve others during What’s Cooking, heads the new residents welcoming group, leads exercise class, helps garden to include taste testing the fresh vegetables, and has even done some canning when the vegetables started coming in last year.

“The good Lord, Keller Landing, and determination gave me a new life. Keller Landing is my home. I now have two families to love,” said Hill.

Her first family includes her two daughters. She believes her greatest accomplishment was raising two strong independent women. Her youngest daughter served in the military, and that daughter with her husband did two tours of duty in Iraq.

“I was scared, but knew how strong and determined she was,” said Hill.

Regarding being scared but determined, Hill recently went out on a date.

“After all these years! I accepted a date but wondered – how was this was going to happen?” said Hill.

Their daughters worked it out. His daughter picked them up. They dined at a nice restaurant, and then walked in the park.

“We were like teenagers again. He even held my hand. It was wonderful. You see, life does not have to stop because you live in a nursing home,” said Hill.

During their nursing home pageant when others walked out to present themselves, rather than walk she performed a little dance across the floor.

“My daughter and grandchildren were there. They couldn’t believe it. I don’t know for sure if they were happy or embarrassed. We all laughed,” said Hill.

“Why would I not be happy? Our home is our community,” said Hill.

Editor’s note: This is the seventh story in a 10-part series about the finalists for the 2018 Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant. On July 25, we’ll post a story about Ms. River City Center Linda Morris.

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

The Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant is July 30. Click here for more information.