Going for the crown

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Tears welled up in Mary Mercer's eyes when she was crowned Ms. Nursing Home at Fountainbleau Lodge in Cape Girardeau.

"I never had a crown before. The closest I ever came was first runner-up at the Potosi High School prom," she said. On a scale of one to 10, she rated the event as a 10.

Her daughter, Shelly, was the first to congratulate Mercer. "It's wonderful," she said. "We're so proud."

Eight contestants at Fountainbleau vied for the crown and an opportunity to compete in the upcoming district five pageant titled "Aged to Perfection," taking place at Chaumette Winery in Ste. Genevieve June 25. A state contest is planned at Lake of the Ozarks in August.

Neighboring Heartland Care and Rehab Center in Cape Girardeau also recently held a pageant with 35 contestants; the winner was Louise Lemons.

Mercer has come a long way, according to Fountainbleau nurse Jane Mallory. The victim of a stroke, Mercer started out in the skilled-care facility.

"She needed almost total care," Mallory said. "Now, with therapy and encouragement from the staff and her family, she's able to do a lot of things she couldn't do in the past. Feminine things. Like put on makeup and comb her hair."

Mercer feels at home at the lodge and is glad to have made friends there. "At first I didn't know anybody here," she said. "When I can walk, I'll go home."

Categories for nursing home queen included personality, spryness, physical appearance, ability to show happiness in her life, life activities, smile, attitude toward life and talents.

Heartland Care and Rehab Center administrator Glenda Cato said, "Our staff judged the pageant at our facility, and our selection process also factored in resident's needs for recognition as well."

Heartland's Lemons was married twice. After her first husband died from leukemia, she cared for her aunt and mother and later met up with her childhood sweetheart. Lemons, who does not have any children, said she considers herself blessed for the opportunity of being able to do so much in her lifetime.

cpagano@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 133

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