The Senior Rehab and Recovery Center at Limestone Health Facility has one sharp cookie in the form of Mrs. Jessie Ruth Underwood as one of their residents. She was born at home on October 24, 1929 near Ardmore on the Alabama side. Five days later would be the official beginning of the Great Depression. Jessie was the baby of seven – five boys and two girls. Her parents farmed “just about everything from milk cows to crops,” she said.
Eighteen years later Jessie Ruth married, and her husband very much wanted to serve in WWII, but had a hernia which prevented him from enlisting. They had three children, two boys and a girl, and Jessie says she “done lost count of the grandkids and great-grandkids.” Lynnville Church of Christ was her life-long church home, and she was baptized at the age of 15.
When Jessie was first married, she worked at the phone company, but was then able to stay at home once her children came along. Her husband, she said, “did a little bit of everything; picked cotton, picked corn, built houses, and cut trees.”
We moved to the topic of favorites, and Jessie’s favorite color is blue.
Favorite food to either make or eat? Fried chicken. She also loves dressing, and wanted me to know that the only way for dressing to be good is to serve it warm.
Favorite book? The Bible.
Favorite Bible verse? “The Golden Rule. My husband used to say, ‘Treat people the way you want to be treated.’”
Favorite hymn? “Amazing Grace.” We talked for a while about just how good that song is, and how it never goes out of style.”
Favorite US President? John Fitzgerald Kennedy. We also chatted about how clear the day of the Kennedy assassination still is to us both, all these years later.
Biggest change in Jessie’s lifetime? “Landing on the moon. Many things have happened before and since, but that moon landing was something,” she said.
Jessie came to Limestone Health Facility about four years ago, and likes it there. Savannah, one of the activities coordinators said, “She’s really good at Bingo.” Jessie showed me her most recent prize, which she won on Good Friday. It was a purple Easter egg that featured cross-shaped, fruit-flavored candies in it. She also won a silver-colored glittery nail kit in a previous game. We needed to wrap up our time together because the next Bingo game was due to start soon. As we headed outside to the beautiful garden to take Jessie’s picture, I was able to scope out some of the prizes that were waiting for the Bingo winner, and this game was no doubt going to be spirited.
I asked Jessie if there was anyone on staff that had taken especially good care of her, and she said with a smile that a nurse by the name of Aurea had done so.
Jessie told me that the advice she would give to young people today is, “Make sure you have the Lord as your Savior. Trust Him and obey Him, and He’ll see you through.” Timeless advice from a woman who continues to live life well, Jessie Ruth Underwood.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner