Monday, January 17, 2011

Her Name Was Mississippi

Although she was only one in five million, about one of sixty in the US and one of around 300 worldwide, Mississippi Winn was not widely known outside of Shreveport, Louisiana and those among her family and friends. Until 2001 she lived on her own, cooking, cleaning and taking care of her modest needs. She never learned to drive and for trips to the grocery store she either took the bus or got a ride from friends. Modern things didn’t interest her much, but she enjoyed bingo and sewing, and also cooking stewed chicken and vegetables. For exercise she walked around a local track near her home. She didn’t eat dairy products but loved fruit and vegetables, and took one vitamin pill and one aspirin a day.

Born in 1897 in Benton, Louisiana, Mississippi Winn died at Magnolia Manor Nursing Home on Friday. She was 113 years old.

Known as “Sweetie” by many of her friends and family, she never married and spent her life working as a domestic, cooking and taking care of the children of her employers’. For eighty-two years she was a member of the Avenue Baptist Church, but last able to attend services in August of 2010. On her 110th birthday the Mayor of Shreveport declared March 31 ‘Mississippi Winn Day.’ Ms Winn outlived many of her church friends, sometimes saying to her great-niece, “I’m just going to stay here until He’s ready for me.”

We celebrate outstanding names in the news, give adulation to the likes of Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, and line up to mourn dead Presidents. If all were right with the world the life of one like Mississippi Winn would in our eyes outshine them all.

1 comment:

  1. Fodder for a novel--one of a particular viewpoint and depicting the changes in the culture from 1897 to now. And I often contemplate the changes my own mother (at age 96) has seen--starting at that hard-scrabble farm in Mis'sip'pi when mules pulled the plows and then were hitched to wagons for a long trip to town.


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America