‘Flower lady’ brightens spirits at nursing homes

ANGOLA, Ind. (AP) — With each bud of gentleness, the woman known as “the flower lady” hands out posies as her committee sings hymns and patriotic tunes.

It’s all on Thursday, their favorite time of the week, when they dish out attention at Angola nursing homes.

Wilma Largent, “the flower lady” at the nursing homes, and her friends from Presbyterian Chapel of the Lakes in Angola — she calls them her “committee”— perform their ministry.

They have coffee, but don’t gather to gossip or discuss the latest news. Instead, they review their weeks, share their lives and pray.

“I think it’s important to have focus,” Largent told The Herald Republican while showing her weekly attendance list she keeps. Their ministry is serious business. “We go around the table and talk about what kind of week we have. This appeals to body, mind and spirit.”

After coffee, they travel to nursing homes, where Largent, dressed in a sparkly wardrobe and bright colors, shines. Her shoes are one-of-a-kind, adorned with artificial flowers like those she hands patients. Her giving is with a smile, pat or hug when needed.

Their kindness is met with tears welling up in patients’ eyes, especially from military veterans when familiar patriotic songs are sung. Others smile at the attention. Those patients who can’t speak mouth the words.

Sally Bosler, one of the committee members, said the Thursday visits have been ongoing since 2008. They started after the ladies noticed when visiting a sick friend that some patients never received visitors.

Largent and her committee made sure that doesn’t happen anymore. And it doesn’t, especially on Thursdays.

“We go in and sing,” said Pam Getts. “Not only is it uplifting, but it has the most healing potential. Wilma started this and we had so many it clogged the hallways. There is something going on, but that is how God works.”

Largent said she receives flowers far and wide she shares with patients.

Patients simply love the visits from the flower lady and her committee.

“Residents really enjoy it,” said Bridget McShane, nurse liaison at Northern Lakes Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Angola. “They go room to room and if (patients) allow it, they’re serenaded.”

Other committee members said their Thursdays help keep them active and propels their faith grow. Others said the experience helps their health. Largent said like with any muscle, their ministry helps make everything better.

“I knew women who do this. I can’t sing, but I knew I was giving. So many say, ‘Thank you’ back,” said Sue Claphan. “I had breast cancer and I think they had a part in my well-being.”

“I don’t see this as having an end,” Largent said. “I see it as an ongoing ministry and someone wondered if it was a clique. We didn’t choose it. It’s like the wind — we were blown together.”

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