By Ellen Cowne
Joan Hataway still has a sense of humor. When her daughter asked her, “How do you feel, Mama?” she answered, “With my hands.”
At 78 years old, Mrs. Hataway is not going to let anyone get the best of her. Alzheimer’s and Phlebitis didn’t know what they’re up against when they attacked her, because she has family and her dogs to support every move she makes.
Donnie Hataway, her son, lives with her and takes care of her, and her daughter Katie Moore is there each day as well. Their goal, they said, is to keep her at home and out of a nursing home. She has two other daughters, Nancy and Lisa, who help whenever they can, but her real protection comes from Gidget and Grace, her two dogs.
Gidget is so protective that when Donnie tucks his mother in at night, he can expect a growl from the dog who thinks no one should be around Hataway but her. It’s understandable that her children and animals should feel protective since she spent her life taking care of children and animals in the neighborhood. A Girl Scout leader, the neighborhood taxi, the neighborhood seamstress, and the neighborhood babysitter, she also worked at Belks and at Delmar Window Covering until 1995 when she retired and moved to Winterville. Between these activities and selling Tupperware, Avon, and Stanley goods, she taught Sunday School and enjoyed having the neighborhood children hang out at her house.
She loves all holidays, but Halloween and Easter have always been her favorites. She misses being able to decorate the yard with an egg tree for Easter and ghosts for Halloween, but Donnie put up a couple of witches for her to enjoy now that she is in bed. She smiles when she sees them remembering that favorite holiday when children would come to her door all dressed up as little monsters.
Before May, when she was still ambulatory, Donnie would take her on long walks up to two or three miles. Her dogs, and sometimes her grandchildren, would walk with them and listen to her talk about the beauty of the outdoors. Her family is really grateful for this ramp because it will allow her to get out in a wheelchair and enjoy the outside. They also are happy that it will help get her over to visit a neighbor that she used to have coffee with every morning. Alzheimer’s and Phlebitis may be winning physically, but nothing can get that feisty spirit down. She teases Donnie now, as he takes care of her, with “Quit it, Don.” And he just smiles and combs her hair.
Ellen Cowne provides reports from the Rotary Club of Madison County.