By Stacy Smith

Born on top of Bug Tussell Mountain in Bremen, Alabama, 80 years ago, Melvaleen Roseberry moved to Cullman later and has never met a stranger since.

As Ms. Woodland Village Rehabilitation and Health Care 2018, Rosebery tells all who will listen about her residency in a nursing home, “No one needs to be stuck in the mud, and I like to have a good time!”

A special person who she admires was her Grandma McClendon. Her grandmother prayed while doing everything, washing clothes to milking a cow. Roseberry remembers getting stung by a bee and running to find Grandma McClendon because she dipped snuff. She spat tobacco on the bee sting, and it was soothed.

“Grandma McClendon made it better. I love that woman, and still miss her to this day,” said Roseberry. “I also remember the first time I smoked tobacco,” said Roseberry.

She was nine years old. A friend and she decided to learn to smoke. They went to the store on Bug Tussell Mountain and bought a pack of Pall Malls. They sold cigarettes to children then. They smoked every single cigarette in the pack.

“We were dizzy, sick and could barely walk. It was the first and last time I smoked,” said Roseberry.

As a young adult, she was a manager at David Lee’s Department Store. There was a photographer who would take photographs for families. He insisted on taking Roseberry’s picture because he said she looked like Elizabeth Taylor.

“I got that a lot, but I didn’t see the resemblance,” said Roseberry.

She finally agreed to his taking her picture, and is glad. It proudly hangs on her room wall at Woodland Village. People see it and say she looks like Elizabeth Taylor.

“I have made some very good friends in my almost two years at Woodland Village. There are old high school friends who also live here. These folks are my family that I didn’t know I needed until I moved here. I am so thankful that I now have them in my life,” said Roseberry.

As a resident activity volunteer, she helps set up events and invites other residents to attend activities such as bingo, dominoes, and shopping trips.

“I have my family outside of Woodland Village that I love and care for very much, but you have to understand, everyone here, staff and residents alike, are not just friends, people here are my family,” said Roseberry.

“We are treated as adults with valid opinions, ideas, hopes and dreams,” said Roseberry.

Mary Tilley, Activities Director, Woodland Village Health Care said, “When the emcee called Melvaleen Roseberry as the winner of our Woodland Village pageant, she still did not realize that she had won. We had to convince her that her name was called.”

“Life may not be exactly what we had envisioned for ourselves, but who knows how life is going to turn out? I for one never thought that I would compete in a pageant, win it, shoot a video, and be interviewed as a statewide top 10 contestant!” said Roseberry.

“The way I look at my life and future is that it’s just the beginning to a whole new part of the life that God has planned for me. I am going to have a good time and enjoy every minute of it!” said Roseberry.

Editor’s note: This is the final story in a 10-part series about the finalists for the 2018 Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant. On July 30, we’ll announce the winner of the pageant.

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.