By LANCE CRANMER firstname.lastname@example.org
HILLIARD, Ohio – It’s an unspoken lesson learned quickly by folks who grew up on the farm.
If a neighbor needs a helping hand, you give it to them.
“I’m an old Iowa girl,” said Delilah Beeman, better known as “Dee” around National Church Residences Mill Run. “That’s what we were taught to do on the farm. We help each other.”
As far back as the second grade, Dee remembers her mother teaching her how to sew.
A quick glance around her apartment at Mill Run and her handy work is obvious.
Her bedspread, drapes, jacket, tea cozy … all products of Dee’s creativity with a sewing machine.
But it’s the little things that Dee does for others – most of the time without even being asked – that makes her beloved among the staff and residents.
“All she needs is for someone to say, ‘this might help if …’ and it’s done,” said Linda Roehrenbeck, the Executive Director at Mill Run. “She doesn’t thrive on kudos. It’s the joy she gets from giving.”
When a resident suffering from a brain tumor lost her hair due to radiation, Dee quickly knitted her a few caps.
“She didn’t like bright colors so I made her black, brown, gray and tan ones,” said Dee, who also makes hats for patients at the James Cancer Hospital in Columbus. “I’m a cancer survivor. Twice. So I understand.”
When the shirt-savers, worn by Memory Care patients while they eat, began to show signs of wear, Dee collected them and sewed new Velcro patches on so they once again stayed in place.
Dee is a member of the Knot Just Knitters club at Mill Run. As the program began to grow in popularity, a generous donor dropped off a large amount of material for the group to use.
“When the material came in, it was such nice material, I thought we had to use it for something else,” Dee said. “I make all kinds of little goodies.”
Dee decided to take the material and make a pattern for stuffed animals that she could pass out as presents to the Memory Care residents on Mill Run’s second floor.
“Our Memory Care patients would love to have things to hold,” said Linda. “She got the idea and she just started going. And then she decided that the men shouldn’t have Teddy bears. The men need a football.”
In the first week Dee produced a little more than a dozen small stuffed dogs, bears and footballs. She gave out one at first, but held the others until she made sure Linda approved.
“These are wonderful,” said Linda. “She’s so dear.”
“From the time you cut them out, stuff them and sew them together, it’s a little over an hour each,” said Dee, who suffers from carpal tunnel, but rarely takes breaks from her work. “I enjoy doing it. That’s the important thing.”
Dee arrived at Mill Run in December after many years of living on Columbus’ west side. She moved to the Buckeye State in 1945, married, belonged to multiple Masonic organizations, and raised a daughter and two adopted sons. After 58 years of marriage, Dee became a widow in 2003.
On Halloween, Dee Beeman will turn 93 years old. But to meet her, you would never know it.
“I feel wonderful. My balance is off. So I’m off my rocker,” she joked. “But I feel wonderful. I don’t have a care in the world, really. I don’t have anything to complain about.”
Dee said it is important to her to stay busy. And to find little ways she can help those around her.
“It’s better than sitting around watching TV all day,” Dee said. “If somebody needs a button sewn on, if they come to me, I’ll do it. One lady lost a button on her blouse. I just do little things that don’t amount to much. But she still thanks me for it.”
“She loves doing these things for people,” said Linda, who, like Dee, is a fellow Iowa native and fully understands the way farmers lend each other a hand. “That’s what we do. That’s exactly right. I don’t know why or how, but that’s what our families teach us.”
For Dee, helping others is never work. It’s just the right thing to do.
“I just do things whenever anybody needs something,” said Dee. “I’ll do it if I possibly can.”