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Meet Grace Phillips, the Longest-Tenured Resident at Carillon of Clemmons

The memory of Grace Phillips’ tables overflowing with turkey, ham, dressing, several vegetables, and other holiday fare will be part of her daughter’s favorite memories for many years to come.

“Everyone who came to Christmas lunch knew she would have homemade rolls on the menu,” says Judy Phillips. “At Christmas time, she would also make three fruitcakes, Moravian and sugar cookies, and five different kinds of candies. There was lots and lots of food, and she loved cooking it.”

Grace Phillips was the first resident to move in to Carillon Assisted Living of Clemmons in September of 2014. She came after living at the Mooresville community for five months, when bad weather forced construction delays at the new community.

Grace’s daughter, Judy, searched for a new home for her mother when she needed to move from the assisted living home where she had spent four years to a memory care community. Judy says Carillon was a good choice.

“I am pleased with Carillon’s care,” says Judy, who visits her mother several times a week. “Recently, Mom fell and fractured her collarbone. The staff and management stepped up and made sure she was taken care of and got healed. That means a lot when you have something extra going on—that they will step up and help. I’ve had that experience several times.”

Despite her mother’s advancing Alzheimer’s, Judy says there are some pleasant aspects to her condition. Grace still recognizes her daughter, Judy’s husband, Jack, and two nephews and a niece who visit Carillon regularly. During their visits, Judy enjoys fixing her mother’s hair, putting on moisturizer, and heading to the dining room for coffee and dessert.

And while many of Grace’s memories are fading, Judy says her mother still enjoys this time of year. Grace loves everything about Christmas, from decorating to shopping to baking—activities that are also part of Judy’s holiday celebrations.

“She’s at a point where she always likes to look at things,” Judy says. “The best thing for her now is decorations.”

A native of High Point, North Carolina, at the age of nine Grace’s family moved to a farm just outside of East Bend, a small town 40 miles northeast of High Point. Despite the distance, her father still commuted back to High Point to work at a furniture factory, while Grace’s mother stayed home to raise her and seven older siblings.

After World War II ended, Grace met and married Judy’s father, Paul, who worked on the manufacturing line at R.J. Reynolds. Grace maintained the same homemaker status as her mother until Judy was grown and married.

When Grace went to work, she became the nutrition site manager for the Meals on Wheels program in East Bend. She held that position for 22 years until she retired.

Grace and Paul Phillips were married for 55 years before he died in 2001. They were good parents, teaching their daughter respect and to do good to others.

Grace was an excellent role model, teaching Sunday school, singing in the choir, and directing Vacation Bible School at the small Baptist church where Judy grew up. Grace always led the Christmas play and put it together, too. But it’s another Christmas gesture that Judy will never forget that makes her eyes cloud with tears and her voice choke with emotion whenever she recalls it.

It involves a pair of cowboy boots Judy received as a child from her grandparents, symbolic of growing up in a family that loved horses.

“When I was about 25 and married, underneath the Christmas tree were those cowboy boots my parents had kept all those years,” Judy says. “They had them bronzed for me. I still have them. I was so surprised. I hadn’t even thought about them keeping them that long. That was one of my favorite memories.”

A memory that goes to show how thoughtfulness never goes out of style. Happy Holidays.

Posted in Sage Stories on December 26, 2018

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