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Crossroads Hospice Life Journal Brings Bonds Family

Life Journal Brings Generations Together in MemphisNinety-one-year-old Mildred Spraggins may not have the answers to longevity, but if she did, a lifetime of hard work certainly would be up there.

Miss Mildred is a lifelong worker, a great-grandmother, and a Crossroads Hospice patient. A graduate of Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Miss Mildred’s first job was as a housekeeper at the historic Claridge Hotel. She also worked as an elevator operator at the old Levy Department Store, and in the cafeteria of the Baptist Memorial Hospital. Mildred even revved up the mower and cut the lawn at her home until she was 75.

On a recent Wednesday, Crossroads Hospice volunteer coordinator Angela White and social worker Joyce Glasper joined Miss Mildred, her granddaughter Torrie Rogers and great-granddaughter Simone Rogers at Graceland Nursing Center, where Miss Mildred lives, to work on her Life Journal. The Life Journal is a special leather-bound book, put together by Crossroads staff and volunteers, which Miss Mildred will give to her family. It recounts her experiences, offers advice, and expresses love. At this stage in the process, Angela was gathering stories for the Journal, and Torrie and Simone were eagerly listening to their grandmother tell the tales of her life.

“Some of the stories my grandmother told today I’d never heard before,” said Torrie. “We were so lucky to be her audience today; I’m glad that the rest of my family will get to learn a little more about Miss Mildred when they see the finished book.”

Miss Mildred met her husband, Willie, at the grocery store where he worked in the 1940s. Together they raised six children in the historic Orange Mound community in North Memphis, which was one of the first communities built entirely by and for African Americans. The couple now has four granddaughters and 10 great-grandchildren. [More evidence of the benefits of hard work: Willie, who turns 90 in February, was equally industrious. A Navy veteran, he worked for the Veterans Administration and as a housekeeping supervisor at St. Joseph’s Hospital.]

She also found the time to tend to vegetable garden in her yard where she also grew flowers.

Miss Mildred enjoys an off-color joke or two on occasion, but don’t tell that to her fellow parishioners of the Riverside Missionary Baptist Church where she is an active member and where she sang her favorite hymns, Precious Lord and I’ll Fly Away.

She always baked for the church’s bake sales, which would surprise no one who has tasted the cake she made each Easter, a three-layer pink, white and green wonder with white frosting. Her other specialties were sweet potato pie, steaks, red beans and rice and deviled eggs. When others asked Mildred for her recipes, she would oblige, but only after secretly omitting one ingredient. That way, Miss Mildred remained the best baker in the congregation.

After all, a little mischief never hurt anyone, especially someone who worked as hard as Miss Mildred.

If you would like to help create Life Journals as a volunteer for Crossroads Hospice, or have an interest in spending time with patients or have special talents you would like to share, please visit our website.


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