About the filmmakers
Mrs. Virginia Lyons is a 93-year old woman who currently resides at Mennowood Retirement Community. She has a son and a daughter who come to visit her often. At Mennowood, Mrs. Virginia is known for her love and talent of puzzles. Some of her other hobbies include watching sports on TV and playing bingo with the other residents.
by Rachael Long
ON A COLD FEBRUARY AFTERNOON, Mrs. Virginia sits in her room at the Mennowood Retirement Community watching a baseball game. The 93-year-old woman loves everything sports related. Growing up in Franklin, VA with a father passionate about sports, she was constantly watching sports and playing football with her six brothers and two sisters. “In a family of nine children, my dad would always look for something to entertain us,” she says. Sports was a way for him to do so. Across the street from their home in Franklin was a tennis court and they had a large backyard perfect for a pickup game.
She loves to talk about sports and has a vast knowledge of each one. “I love all the sports: baseball tennis, golf, basketball, football,” she says. As we sit in her room, she is throwing out all kinds of sports terms that sound made up to a non-sports lover like myself. She asks me if I play sports, when I tell her no that I am too clumsy, she laughs and says that it’s a shame.
“There are few sports that I don’t thoroughly enjoy. I use to play baseball until I couldn’t anymore,” she says with a smile. Though she is smiling, I can see a distant sadness in her eyes. As she looks out her window that overlooks Warwick Boulevard, I can see her envisioning the diamond shape of a baseball field in her mind and thinking of sunny days spent running the bases.
Now Mrs. Virginia sits in her wheelchair at Mennowood reminiscing on her athletic past. “I go wherever this chair can take me. I hate it, but I’m thankful for it at the same time,” Ms. Virginia says as she looks down at her wheelchair. The only time that she leaves Mennowood, is when somebody takes her somewhere.
No longer able to play her beloved sports, she has found a new hobby to keep her occupied. “I love puzzles. When I put them together, I try to put them together by color,” she says. She shows me a puzzle of a field of flowers that she recently completed. “All the nurses said it was an impossible puzzle to complete, but I did it,” she says with pride.
The next time I visit her, she is working on a 1000-piece puzzle of candy bars. Mrs. Virginia seems the happiest when she is putting together puzzles. As she puts the pieces together, she softly hums. “Another brown piece must go with the Hersey’s chocolate,” she says and then goes back to humming.
She tells me about her son Bill as she works on the “Oh Henry” section of the puzzle. “He never knows until the last second if he can visit, but when he does, he usually brings a puzzle,” she says. The last time that he was able to visit was Thanksgiving and Mrs. Virginia is hopeful that he will be able to visit for Easter.
Observing Mrs. Virginia, it is clear what her passions are: sports, puzzles and her family. Her entire face and body changes when she talks about them. She has a big smile on her face and her posture goes from a depressed slump to a hopeful spring. For someone who spent all of her life being athletic, she is incredibly optimistic for someone in a wheelchair in a retirement home.◊
Rachael Long is a student at Christopher Newport University from Linden, Virginia. She plans to graduate in Spring 2014 with a major in Communications and a minor in Journalism.
Brittany Marks is a Christopher Newport University student.
Mrs. Virginia Lyons, Newport News, Va.
"Meet Virginia, 'Puzzle Queen'"
film by Rachael Long & Brittany Marks
The Mennowood Retirement community is a wonderful place for elder residents to stay, but it can at times become a little lonely and boring, according to Mrs. Virginia Lyons. She is one of many elder residents at Mennowood. Mrs. Lyons has found a passion of hers that keeps her entertained throughout the day while at Mennowood. What is this passion you might ask…?
Puzzles! Yes Puzzles. Mrs. Virginia Lyons is known throughout Mennowood as the Puzzle Queen. This short documentary goes deep into the life of Mrs. Virginia Lyons and her passion for puzzles. Whether it’s a 500-piece or 1000-piece, Mrs. Virginia will sure be able to accomplish it.
"Meet Virginia" (4:18)