NORTH JACKSON – Laurie Strickland’s mother began a slow descent into dementia in 2013 that began with scissors being forgotten and stashed in every room of the house.
In her day, Nancy McClain was a true Youngstown matriarch. She rescued and repaired everything that broke, kept organized records for every extended family member, and presided over an impressive collection of photos, slides, and 8mm film of every child, grandchild, and adoptee. unofficial who found refuge in her home.
She had a pantry in the basement with enough food and cleaning supplies to last several years, and her diligent savings from five decades of light industrial work and cleaning at Packard Electric eventually became an important gift for her. family.
In 2019, Strickland knew McClain needed more care than the family could provide in any of their homes, even with home health assistants. It was then that Strickland brought his mother to Windsor House in Canfield, where she works as a nurse’s aide.
McClain got a single bedroom which her family filled with flowers, cards and hand-drawn photos from the grandchildren. Every day, Strickland would stop by his mother’s room during his breaks to check in.
Over time, McClain lost the ability to speak and swallow. At night, she became confused and tried to get out of bed and leave the nursing home. So, Strickland slept at night in the recliner in his mother’s bedroom to keep her company. In the morning, Strickland brushed his teeth, put on his scrubs and went to work in another wing of the nursing home.
Strickland, who graduated from Austintown Fitch High School in 1981, said she was relieved that her mother passed away peacefully in February 2020, as soon after the COVID-19 pandemic hit nursing homes everywhere hard. the country.
Strickland remembers family members visiting the nursing home who stood outside the windows to see their elderly parents during the lockdown. She remembers many beloved people who did not survive COVID-19. These were scary and heartbreaking times for everyone, but especially for Strickland, who said she always felt close to the people she helped.
At work, Strickland is someone who never stops moving, greeting, telling jokes and smiling. She’s the one who remembers birthdays and makes everyone feel special. She is rare these days as a reliable and hardworking employee.
It has been very difficult for care homes to attract and keep care aides on the payroll, and Strickland has seen dozens of new staff come and go. She hates to admit it, but her body hurts after long shifts and she gets little rest at home.
His cuisine smells of potatoes with cheese and ham or shellfish and stuffed peppers. Her doors are always open to her children and grandchildren, and if the weather is nice, you can find her outside mowing her sprawling North Jackson lawn on a really big tractor.
In late fall, Strickland gathers her daughters and friends to bake thousands of legendary handmade cookies for the holidays. She gets few reviews, but even people who love her say she gives too much.
And even if that’s true, she’s nobody’s fool. Any old Youngstown matriarch, including her mother, would be proud of her fierce determination to make something out of nothing, to work and love as much as possible, and to err on the side of generosity.