Reflections by Maxie Dunnam

At least for a season, every issue of The Pinecone, will remind us of our beloved chaplain, Don Johnson. Every month, in the Chaplain’s Corner, He spoke to our community… sometimes a challenge to work on developing our “spiritual life;” sometimes calling us to work on our relationships; always inspiring us to be more than we are. 

I am humbled and challenged by the invitation to “fill in the empty magazine space” left by Don’s death. I use those words, “fill in the magazine space,” deliberately. In no way would I presume to take Don’s place. I will do my best to use the space to inspire and challenge us. 

Reverend Don Johnson
Reverend Don Johnson 

Put Your Thinking Cap On

I’m calling this column REFLECTIONS. To reflect is to ponder, to meditate and contemplate. Reflecting is thinking about something carefully. Because this is what I’ll be doing in in these REFLECTIONS, there may be a banner accompanying the article calling you to PUT ON YOUR THINKING CAP. The term “thinking cap” denotes an imaginary cap to be worn in order to facilitate thinking. My high school teacher who influenced me most would often say that when we were beginning to explore a new subject. 

baseball cap with a lightbulb

So put on your thinking cap. Let’s think about The shared life of the people of God. 

In Truman Capote’s Other Voices, Other Rooms, the hero is about to walk along a heavy but rotting beam over a brooding, murky creek. Starting over, stepping gingerly . . . he felt he would never reach the other side: always he would be balanced here, suspended between land and in the dark and alone. Then feeling the board shake as Idabel started across, he remembered that he had someone to be together with. And he could go on. 

Isn’t this our experience? It certainly has been mine. I shiver at the thought of having to go it alone. I get chills when I consider where I might be if, at the right time, I had not felt the board shake because someone was walking with me! 

Life in community, particularly the Christian walk is a shared journey. Whether Christian or not, living in a community such as ours at Kirby Pines, we do not walk alone; others walk with us. Paul provided some guidance for our journey together. I urge you to read Gal. 6:1-6. 

Paul is talking about interrelatedness and interdependence. This principle is laced throughout Paul’s epistles. If one member suffers all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together (1 Cor. 12:26 R.S.V.). We who are strong ought to bear the failings of the weak (Rom. 15:1 R.S.V). The new life into which we have been born through Christ is a shared life. Because we belong to Christ, we belong to each other. In community, we are bound to each other, to Christ, and to God. Our life is a shared life. 

-Maxie Dunnam  

Congratulations to Our Employee of the Month: Patricia Irby-Venzant


Patricia Irby-Venzant

Life Enhancement Coordinator 

Describe your family: Very Loving and always telling me how kind-hearted I am. 

Describe yourself in five words: Caring, humble, mindful, knowledgeable and understanding. 

What do you do for fun: Being with family having game and paint night.

Do you have a pet: A German Shepherd named Zeus.

What is your favorite food: Crab Legs. Favorite song: Leave the Door Open by Bruno Mars. 

What is your favorite thing about your job: Having a relationship with my residents and knowing they trust in me. 

What is something you are proud of:  God’s blessing with the gift to reach people that are lacking love. 

What would you like people to know about you:  I have faith in God to guide me to be happy and to care and be mindful of others. 

Pat treats our residents as if they are her own family. She is always finding new ways to keep them engaged. She pays attention as well. If she notices any change in their behavior or in the physical well-being, she notifies a manager right away. Pat is also a team player and will assist in any area needed with a smile on her face. 

Anna Bradford, Healthcare Administrator

Kirby Pines Poetry Group’s Limerick Contest Winners

What is a Limerick? It is a humorous, frequently bawdy, verse of three long and two short lines rhyming aabba, popularized by Edward Lear. 

Jean Saunders

A Fish Known As June
by Jean Saunders 

There once was a fish known as June 
Who sang all her songs out of tune. 
It seemed very odd 
That this musical cod 
Could make even shrimp want to swoon. 

Mary Ann Thurmond

A Lizard Named Lizzy
by Mary Ann Thurmond 

There one was a lizard named Lizzie
Who always ran in a tizzy.
She circled so fast
That her head came in last
And her nickname was Lizzy the Dizzy.

Dale Jones

The Mockingbird
by Dale Jones 

Last night I saw a mockingbird
On a light pole looking absurd.
He sang so loud
Cuz he was proud
The latest egg was the third.

The Poetry Group meets the first Monday of each month at 10:00 am in the Chapel.

Resident Spotlight: Jane Hodge



The Christmases Jane Smith Hodge experienced as a child will most likely seem familiar to many. Jane was born in Munford, Tennessee, a small rural community, in 1939. Her father was a farmer; her mother, a stay-at-home mom. Mid-way her second grade, Jane’s family moved to Charleston, Mississippi where her father again farmed until he found employment as a machinist in a local factory. Jane was the oldest of four other girls in the family; two brothers serving as “bookends”. With so many children, Christmas was always a great occasion. This is how Jane describes her early Christmases: 

“We did not grow up with the elaborate Christmases that children have today and with six kids in the family, we ‘made do’ with what we had. Like in the story books, we went to the woods and cut down a tree that would fit on a table. Then, we would string popcorn and holly berries to decorate the tree. The star on top of the tree was made by Mother and covered in foil. Then, we covered the tree with icicles we purchased. While we were gone to find the tree, Mother stayed home to help Santa with the gifts. These were placed under the tree after we decorated it to wait until Christmas morning. If we were lucky and it snowed near Christmas, Mother always made ‘snow ice cream’ in a huge dishpan. Those memories are the favorites of my childhood.” 

The family remained in Charleston and thrived there. Jane says, “It was a wonderful place to raise a family, with good schools, churches and plenty to do.” The only “bad” thing Jane remembers happening was the time her brother accidentally chopped off the end of her finger while she was helping him at the “choppin” block. They had no car but a neighbor transported her to the doctor and the finger was successfully reattached. While in high school, Jane was on the basketball team which won the Delta Valley Championship. She also received awards including “Class Favorite”. 

Following graduation from high school in 1957, Jane worked a year to save money for college. She then enrolled in a one year secretarial course at Northwest Junior College. Because no jobs were available in Charleston, Jane moved to Memphis. She briefly worked for the American Red Cross but was soon employed by Bridgestone/Firestone. 

Shortly after coming to Memphis, Jane was introduced to Lee Hodge by a friend. They fell in love and were married in 1961. Lee was a brick mason and designed a beautiful herringbone pattern for the fireplace in one of their homes. She and Lee became the parents of three daughters and today there are nine grandchildren and eleven greats! Sadly, Lee passed away with dementia in 1998. 

Jane Hodge

While the children were small, Jane was a stay-at-home mom and served as PTA President of their school. Even so, Jane had twenty five years with Firestone, ten in Memphis and fifteen in a Chicago suburb. While there, she became Transportation Manager for a ten state area. 

In 2003, following her retirement, Jane moved back to Collierville to be close to her family. She became a member of a grief group sponsored by First Evangelical Church which is also involved with the Orange Mound District Youth Foundation. She remains an active member of Ridgeway Baptist Church and their Golden Agers Group. 

Jane says she “fell in love” with Kirby Pines after attending one of the Marketing luncheons. The continual care concept as well as the promise to take care of her in the event of financial problems, sold her. She moved to Kirby Pines in 2020. Jane says this about Kirby Pines: “I love it here. The grounds’ staff keep everything looking lovely. Plus, I feel very safe here and I especially enjoy my balcony. I never have to worry about cooking dinner or fixing anything in my apartment. The thing that I enjoy most is playing games with my friends.” 

Although she has had a busy life, Jane has managed to travel extensively, visiting all seven continents and forty-seven countries, some twice. Several of these trips have been made since moving to Kirby Pines. 

According to Jane, “Christmases now are a contrast to the ones of my earlier life. Actually, I have three Christmases. The first is my immediate family celebration on the night of December 23rd. We have dinner and open gifts. With three daughters, and their families, we have a large group, although not everyone is able to come every year because we are so scattered. The second Christmas is called ‘The Sisters’ Christmas Birthday’. With five sisters, we celebrate our birthdays in this manner: we go out to dinner, return and open gifts to each other. The third and final Christmas celebration is when the entire clan comes together on Christmas Day for a ‘pot-luck’ dinner. There are usually more desserts than regular food, but we always have the traditional turkey and ham. After the delicious meal, we play a game called ‘Dirty Santa’. Everyone brings a gift worth $20. The gift you pick may be taken away from you by someone else. All in good fun!” 

Jane wishes to thank all the people at Kirby Pines who have made her feel welcomed. She along with this writer wishes you a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS! 

Wrtten by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines

Keys to Successful Sleep

Retired couple sleeping

Sleep is an essential function and it’s how our mind and body recharge each day. It’s vital for our health, immune system, and mental function. Without adequate and restful sleep, the brain and body cannot function properly. The average adult requires somewhere between seven and nine hours, however some may function better with slightly more or slightly less sleep. 

Retired man happily wrapped in a blanket

Our internal “clock” regulates the sleep cycle, which controls when you feel tired, as well as when you feel refreshed and alert. This internal clock runs on a 24-hour cycle, commonly known as the circadian rhythm. During this cycle, your body temperature also has a pattern. The temperature pattern tends to peak around late afternoon and hit the lowest point (or when your body is the coolest) around 5 a.m. 

There are a lot of things that can impact a good nights’ sleep, such as stress, screen time, coffee intake, and evening light exposure. One controllable factor that may often be overlooked is temperature. The benefits of sleeping in cooler temps are due to your body’s core temperature. A cooling body temperature induces sleep, and keeping your body cool through the night has been shown to support better sleep patterns. 

Some things you can do to control your sleep temperature settings:

1. Check the thermostat. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep experts recommend keeping the room at 65 degrees. However, not everyone is the same. And, if you are currently sleeping in much warmer temperatures, it is not recommended to make a huge drop suddenly. Slowly decrease the bedroom temperature and see if it has a positive impact on your sleep.

2. Assess your bedding. Consider the type of sheets and blankets you have on the bed. Typically, cotton, bamboo, and linen are the best for keeping you cool. 

3. Pick your pajamas. Before climbing into bed, think about what you are wearing. Flannel pajamas may be super comfortable and cozy, but they are often too warm for sleeping. Consider wearing silk or cotton.

4. Avoid tight clothing. Wearing tight-fitting clothes to sleep will decrease the amount of airflow your body receives throughout the night, which can increase your body temperature. 

5. Use a fan. Fans are a great way to not only keep cool through the night, but they can also provide white noise, which is another great sleep aid. 

If you are struggling with getting enough restful rest at night, consider checking the temperature! While there are many different factors that can impact sleep, temperature is a relatively easy one to fix. Happy sleeping! 

Brittany Austin, National Director of Health and Wellness, Functional Pathways 

8 Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season

Sant lifting weights

While the holidays are a time of gatherings with family and friends, they can also be a source of stress, as exercise schedules might be disrupted for shopping excursions and rich holiday meals make it difficult to adhere to a particular diet. Staying healthy can be a challenge during this time of year, especially for seniors. 

To stay healthy during the holidays, reduce stress and avoid the holiday blues, keep the following tips in mind: 

1. Make healthy choices: From rich meals to tempting and tasty homemade snacks, the holidays are a time for many to indulge in food — or overindulge. Try to plan meals with other events in mind. For example, if a big dinner is planned for New Year’s Eve, consider a lighter lunch of salad or soup. 

2. Stay hydrated: Drinking water is one way you can stay healthy during the holidays. To make it easier to stay hydrated, have water easily accessible at home and keep bottled water in a purse or bag when running errands. 

3. Follow dietary restrictions: Some seniors must follow special diets, such as one that is low in sodium. It can be difficult to adhere to a diet during busy, stressful times, especially if there aren’t any healthy options available. “When people get stressed, they tend to overeat and don’t stick to their diets.” To make it easier to follow dietary guidelines, keep healthy options like fresh-cut vegetables and fruit on hand. 

4. Keep exercising: Stick to an exercise schedule, bundle up and invite your family for a walk around the grounds at Kirby Pines If it’s too cold or icy outside, enjoy the decorated halls inside. Visit the Oasis or enjoy the warm pool. 

5. Decrease gifts: The holidays can be a financial challenge due to purchasing gifts for many family members. To reduce stress from paying for gifts and shopping, consider having a family grab bag, where everyone contributes one gift. 

6. Rest after traveling: For some, the holidays are a time to travel long distances to visit family and friends. Whether you travel by car, rail or plane, make time to rest before jumping into visiting or shopping. 

7. Take a break: Between parties and shopping, the holidays often involve busy days and late nights. If you are planning an all-day outing, carve some time for a nap or a way to relax for a bit, even if it is just to sip tea in a cafe. Little kids, seniors and everyone in between will appreciate it. 

8. Stay involved: Be a part of the holidays. For many, that may include helping out with holiday preparations. “Reduce your stress by allowing others to hold the holiday event at their home instead of yours, but stay involved by cooking a favorite dish or maybe help decorate the home.” 

With a few preventative measures and a willingness to change some traditions, seniors can stay healthy and follow their diets, while also having fun with their family members this holiday season. 

Earth Day April 22, 2021

What is Earth Day

Earth Day is an annual event on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First held on April 22, 1970, it now includes a wide range of events coordinated globally by EARTHDAY.ORG including 1 billion people in more than 193 countries. 

In 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honor the Earth and the concept of peace, to first be observed on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. 

This day of nature’s equipoise was later sanctioned in a proclamation written by McConnell and signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations. A month later a United States Senator Gaylord Nelson proposed the idea to hold a nationwide environmental teach-in on April 22, 1970. 

He hired a young activist, Denis Hayes, to be the National Coordinator. Nelson and Hayes renamed the event “Earth Day”. Denis and his staff grew the event beyond the original idea for a teach-in to include the entire United States. More than 20 million people poured out on the streets, and the first Earth Day remains the largest single day protest in human history. 

Key non-environmentally focused partners played major roles. Under the leadership of labor leader Walter Reuther, for example, the United Auto Workers was the most instrumental outside financial and operational supporter of the first Earth Day. 

According to Hayes, “Without the UAW, the first Earth Day would have likely flopped!” Nelson was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom award in recognition of his work. 

Getting Back to Exercise

Measures taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19 have changed our everyday schedules and disrupted exercise routines for many individuals. Although it might be tempting to skip your exercise during these challenging times, exercise is essential to your physical health and mental well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. Regular physical activity can help give our days structure and be a way to stay connected with family and friends. Growing evidence shows that physical exercise does not have to be strenuous or even require a major time commitment. It is most effective when done regularly, and in combination with a healthy diet and mental wellness activity.

There are significant health benefits that can be gained with a moderate amount of daily physical activity. As metabolism naturally slows with age, maintaining a healthy weight is a challenge. Exercise helps increase metabolism and builds muscle mass, helping to burn more calories. Regular physical activity may reduce high blood pressure, help manage weight and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and various cancers – all conditions that can increase susceptibility to COVID-19. It also improves bone and muscle strength and increases balance, flexibility and fitness. Strength training may also alleviate the symptoms of chronic conditions such as arthritis.

There are also cognitive benefits of exercise for older adults. Physical Activity benefits regular brain functions and can help keep the brain active, which can prevent memory loss, cognitive decline, and dementia. Also, exercise improves your sleep. Poor sleep is not an inevitable consequence of aging. Quality sleep is important for your overall health. Physical activity often improves sleep by helping you fall asleep more quickly and sleep more deeply. Furthermore, exercise boosts mood and self-confidence. Endorphins produced by physical activity can actually help you feel better and reduce feelings of sadness or depression. Being active and feeling strong naturally helps you feel more self-confident.

How Can Therapy Help?

The Rehabilitation Team assists each person to progress towards their individualized fitness goals and is there to support them through both their challenges and successes. Your rehab team is specially trained to help adults with a broad range of conditions that affect their ability to participate in physical activity and exercise. Your therapists can identify lifestyle changes that can facilitate improved physical fitness levels. Therapy can offer assistance and guidance by creating a plan of care that includes:

  • Resistive weight bearing exercises
  • Correcting body mechanics & posture while exercising
  • Balance & stability interventions
  • Treatment of mechanical pain & dysfunction that limit exercise participation
  • Home modifications & functional safety assessments
  • Energy conservation with physical activity.

Consult your rehab team today if you are interested in increasing your Physical Activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. For additional information, please contact your Select Rehabilitation Physical, Occupational and Speech therapists.

Congratulations to Our Employee of the Month: Kamariee McCray

Kamariee McCray


Describe Your Family: Supportive.

Describe yourself in five words: Outspoken, Kind, Respectful, Loving, Positive.

What is something you are proud of: Myself and how far I’ve come.

What do you do for fun: Shop.

Do you have any hobbies or interests: Doing hair.

Do you have a pet: A Yorkie, her name is Melanie.

What is your favorite thing about your job: The residents.

What is your favorite food: Baked fish.

What would you like people to know about you: I’m a kind-hearted young lady.

Kamariee since day one has been an extremely caring and hardworking individual. She always seeks to give 100% in whatever she is
assigned to do. She is punctual and dependable. The residents appreciate her pleasant demeanor. Although this year has been a challenge, Kamariee’s positive attitude and team work has only increased. She finds the good in everything.

Jada Mullins, Director of Environmental Services 

Take a Ride on The Nustep

Have you visited the Oasis recently? Exercise has been proven to improve physical and emotional health for people of all ages.

The most popular piece of equipment in the Oasis is called NuStep; the sitting position minimizes joint stress and lower back pain. This equipment promotes a natural walking motion while eliminating impact and stress on joints. Easy to operate and adjust to your specific height, weight, and level of endurance. You can keep track of your time while it automatically calculates your steps and calories burned. The newest model even checks your pulse. The NuStep is great for helping you lose weight or improve your strength and endurance in your arms and legs. We have three NuSteps available.

We make appointments with the doctors, our hairdresser and lunch with friends. Why not schedule a visit to the Oasis 2-3 times a week. This is a great place to start an exercise routine. Prove to yourself that moderate exercise improves your health and well being. Schedule an appointment with Mary Hand, who is in the Oasis Monday through Thursday to assist you with the equipment and help you with your exercise program.