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Birthday Ride In Style

When you walk into her home at 411 Mallalieu Dr., you aregreeted with a smile large enough to fill any room.

Mildred Blackwell turned 81 Thursday. But by the way sheassociated with friends and family, you would not know it.

Blackwell’s daughter Donnis Jordan, with the help of HospiceCompassus, gave Blackwell a birthday party that would make anyonejealous. Blackwell enjoyed cake, snacks and fellowship withfriends, but the highlight of the afternoon was the gift arrangedfor her by Jordan and Hospice Compassus.

About 3 p.m., a white stretch limo pulled up in front ofBlackwell’s home to give her the ride of her life – a ride that shehad always wanted to take.

“I never dreamed one would be in my driveway,” said Blackwell,her eyes teary as she walked to the vehicle.

To cruise along the streets of Brookhaven like a celebrity wassomething that Blackwell had always wanted to experience, but neverhad the opportunity to do. In fact, she was not sure what she waslooking forward to most about the experience.

“When I get to ride in it, then I’ll tell you,” Blackwellsaid.

The Lincoln County native would soon get her fill of experiencesriding in a limo as she, her daughter and her pastor and hospicechaplain Brother Billy Joe Deer picked up her sister, Ruth Snyder,to observe Brookhaven through the windows of tinted glass.

The limo ride was something that Jordan had hoped to give hermother last year, but was unable to at that time. When Blackwell’snurse, Jenny Jo Pepper, heard her patient talking recently aboutnot ever getting the chance to know what it would feel like to ridein a limo, she knew it was something she and her co-workers couldmake happen.

Just Monday, Pepper passed word of the gift idea to HospiceCompassus Volunteer Coordinator Cassandra Hall, and through acouple of phone calls later the surprise was set.

Jordan, who was overwhelmed with emotion when she had learnedwhat was in store for her mother, shared the good news to thebirthday girl a day early.

“Tears, overjoyed, it was unbelievable,” Jordan said when askedabout her reaction, “I am so happy this is going to happen forMom.”

When Jordan told her mother a day earlier, she said her mom didnot believe the limo ride was going to happen and asked why. Thatstory of selflessness seemed to echo in conversation aboutBlackwell after she had left.

“I look forward to visiting, she always has something positiveto say,” an emotional Pepper said. “She makes my day better when Icome to see her.”

While Pepper may check on Blackwell twice a week because of herpatient’s fight with end-stage heart disease, Blackwell’s heart waspumping on all cylinders during her birthday bash trip.

“She’s choked up,” Deer said from his cell phone inside thelimo. “She’s loving every minute.”

While trying to do something nice for Blackwell, Hall mentionedthat they still learned something from a person that never stopsgiving back to those around her.

“I think it’s very gratifying that someone can get so excitedover something so small,” Hall said. “We could all stand to learnsomething from that.”