After one year, Helen Sawyer can say she loves it at Whispering Oak
FAMILY TIME — Whispering Oak resident Helen Sawyer, left, chats with nieces Lynn, Pat and Paulette. (Star Eagle photo by Rachel Rietsema)
By RACHEL RIETSEMA
Whispering Oak and Helen Sawyer are soon to be celebrating their one-year anniversary.
And, you know what? They were made for each other.
“My stay here has been wonderful,” Helen said. “The staff is friendly and continually gives of themselves.”
Director Maryann Schlaak has nothing but nice things to say about Helen as well.
“She is very gracious and appreciative,” she said. “She’s just an all-around neat lady.”
Schlaak’s observations go far beyond just those. There’s so much more to Helen than meets the eye.
“Helen enjoys the woman’s touch here,” she said. “I know she is very close to her two nieces. Her son Mark is very diligent too. He’s here every morning and is very caring with her.”
Family in general is what staff and visitors will find in her living room. Her nieces Paulette, Pat and Lynn actually just had a nice visit with her a few weeks ago.
“I dearly love them,” she said. “I’ve been trying to buy most of my grandkids’ Christmas gifts through the mail because I can’t walk. They are all in the closet.”
And there the gifts shall remain for a while. Dylan, Addison, Alexis, Austin, Eric and Nicole will just have to remain patient.
“My husband Warren is deceased,” she said. “Before we met, he served in the army and when we were married, we farmed on the east and west sides of Ellendale.”
Nowadays, her son Mark runs the corn and bean operations. It’s just as well.
“I thought Whispering Oak was full at the time, so when my son told me there was a place, I knew what to do,” she said.
Leaving that land to the next generation sets her heart and mind at ease. It will be well taken care of, she says.
“Our farm has been in my family for a long time,” she said. “On my mother’s side, that is.”
Prior to her time spent in this beloved farm house, she lived in Grand Meadow with her parents. Her father, Palmer Berg, owned a general store, where she liked to interact with customers behind the counter.
“He sold everything there – hosiery, tablecloths, shoes,” she said. “I liked being with the people.
My mother Selma worked in the store too. After my dad passed on, she went back into teaching and was principal of a high school.”
Helen actually followed in her mother’s footsteps career-wise.
“Teaching those kids were some of the best years of my life,” she said. “To be with those children was wonderful. It was fun to learn from them.”
She taught mainly third-grade students, but she did manage to do some kindergarten instruction too.
“I quit and raised my family and went back into it again,” she said. “Then, I went into social work at Cedar View nursing home in Owatonna for 10 years.”
Initially hired on as the activity director there, she didn’t hesitate when the option of directing placement for residents came about.
“I just like being with people,” she said. “I helped them in any way I could.”