Who is that lady who is always smiling?
Well, her full name is Regina Stelma, she’s eighty years old and has been under the care of THE LITTLE SERVANT SISTERS OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION for about seventeen years. First at the group’s Marian Residence in Cherry Hill, NJ for about six years and the remainder here at SAINT JOSEPH’S SENIOR HOME in Woodbridge.
Gina’s father died years ago and Gina and her mother lived together in the family home in Manville, NJ., in the Parish of SACRED HEART OF JESUS CHURCH, where they were active parishioners. During that time, they also traveled together extensively too far off places such as The Holy Land, Poland, Rome, and other Religiously noted places. A time came when Gena’s mother became ill and knew her time in this place was short, so she arranged with the Sisters at Cherry Hill to care for Gina. After her mom passed, Gina moved into the tiny Marian Senior Residence operated by the Sisters there. Gina’s six years at Marion were filled with happiness. She was able to walk during that time and needed only some minimal personal care assistance. She was a regular at the Provincial house for Holy Adorations and was invited to Sunday dinners with the Sisters. Sister Joanna, (which she calls “her Sister”), took Gina for many enjoyable car trips; Atlantic City, to The Our Lady of Czestochowa Shrine in Pennsylvania and even back to Manville to visit her beloved “Mommy’s” grave. She also liked the stops at McDonald’s for fries and chicken nuggets. She decorated her room like the little princess she imagined herself to be. The room was filled with all sorts of stuffed toys, pictures, balloons and streamers. She was and is an expert at jigsaw puzzles. One of her more complicated puzzles can be seen hanging in the hallway near the Nurses Station at SAINT JOSEPH’S SENIOR HOME.
Sadly, eight years ago her health began to seriously deteriorate and Gina was transferred to the total care section of SAINT JOSEPH’S NURSING HOME. Gina now is in a wheelchair with Parkinson Disease. However, being with her from time to time one would hardly know her personal travail. She still smiles a lot, is always full of joy, thinks everyone loves her, likes her hairstyles, never aggressive or depressed or competitive, goes to daily Mass and receives the Eucharist, can communicate in her own way with simple words and gestures, likes Hallmark movies, thinks she’s part of one big happy family with many sisters, brothers and friends and she certainly still thinks of herself as the most beautiful little princess in the world. One of the most important lessons to be learned by Regina Stelma’s life is that life is indeed worth living despite not being “perfect” in the eyes of this world.
And please remember:
This person may not be perfect in the eyes of earthly man,
but God designed her according to his plan.
Perhaps to serve as an inspiration to those who have it all.
To recognize their limitations, in comparison are small.
Embrace life to the fullest; the sights and the sounds,
aware of things most people are not;
With childlike innocence, that some have forgot.
So, God sent this Angel to teach all of us here;
That this unsung heroine has lessons to share.
–Theresa K. Hardy