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Many of you have asked about our patient who was featured in our last newsletter. When Michelle Heller first arrived at the Monte Siesta nursing facility, it was a difficult adjustment. She was relatively young, with cancer, and could no longer live alone. She questioned her place at the nursing home. She questioned her place in life.

She soon found her sense of purpose by ministering to others. Unfortunately, Michelle passed away in December, nearly a year after her arrival. Her legacy lives on in the friends she made and the lives she touched.

Monte Siesta offered her more than just a room – it offered her a community. Her next door neighbor, Judy Sturgill, used to be a certified nurse aide and is often the first person in a new resident’s room in order to welcome them. Judy and Michelle became close friends. They popped back and forth to each others’ rooms to watch movies or just to talk.

“There are givers, and there are takers,” Judy said. “Michelle was definitely a giver. She was the bravest person I know.”

It wasn’t long before Michelle was welcoming new residents also.

Judy Sturgill and Rosie Razo

One of those residents was Rosie Razo, who shared Michelle’s love of art. They worked on many projects together, creating intricate art pieces both for themselves and others. They never lacked for things to do. Rosie said she loves Monte Siesta, with all the staff, activities and games. “We’re a family,” Rosie stated. “If I was at home, I’d just be sitting around.” Michelle, she said, was her first friend.

Michelle was also drawn to the residents who were nonverbal, according to Monte Siesta social worker Ginger Juelfs. She made them paintings and would spend time with them. She greeted everyone she saw with a big smile and a question: “How can I help you?”

Michelle kept her sense of purpose to the very end. She wrote these words to her beloved daughter and granddaughters, words that were offered at her memorial service as a blessing to all who knew and loved her:

Just remember me, darling. Remember how much I love you and my love is unconditional, no conditions. I love you with no expectations of who or what you choose to be in life. Just remember how amazing I think you are and how important you have been to me.