My grandmother, Velma Pust entered this world on November 9, 1926 on her family’s homestead in Lambert, Montana and this is where my roots began. From the time I was a little girl, I was fascinated with the story’s that my grandmother would tell me about her family's voyage to the United States from Germany and their farm life in eastern Montana. I could sit for hours on end and listen to Little Grandma’s stories. Her 5 grandchildren called her little grandma because at her peak height, she reached a whole 5’1” of pure German spitfire and love. I call her a spitfire because growing up in the late 20’s-mid 40’s in rural, eastern Montana was rough. She lived on a farm with her parents, 2 other siblings and many cousins around. Her one cousin was even kidnapped by the gypsies and later returned to my great grandmother. Life was not easy back then, but Velma’s lifestyle gave her the love and will to proceed through life in abundance.
Once Velma graduated from Sidney High School, she moved to Livingston, MT and worked for Carl Wilcoxson at Wilcoxson’s Confectionary. She worked side by side with Harold, Carl’s son for a few years. Harold would walk Velma home every night after closing to ensure she made it safely. At the time, Velma was living with a lady (name unknown) who was a nurse at the local hospital off Calendar St. Undenounced to Velma, that nurse knew a nice young janitor living at the hospital by the name of Walter Smith who just so happened to start frequenting the confectionery late at night before closing. Eventually, Harold passed his nightly walking duties on to Walter to see that Velma made it home safe and that’s where the love began. Two weeks later, Walter and Velma were married in the home where she was living with the nurse. The pictures on this page of the two together are the day they wed on November 9, 1946. After their wedding, they decided to move back to Lambert for a bit to start selling Velma’s cattle. After a couple winters of -50 degrees, they decided to pack up, buy a brand-new Plymouth, and head west.
They landed in a small island town of Anacortes, WA and started their own homestead. They raised cattle, pigs, chickens, rabbits, goats, horses and even three children! They built their life together with their family that they had dreamed of. Over the years, they made many trips back to Montana to visit their family; the closest being in Manhattan/Churchill, Montana. Walter and Velma, were blessed with 5 grandchildren and 2 great granddaughters before each of them passed away.
Now you’re probably wondering what does all this backstory have to do with Heart to Heart Home Care… Well, after Velma’s mother and sister had been diagnosed and passed away from Alzheimer’s disease, our family found that Velma was struggling with the exact same disease. After 5 years of signs, symptoms and many family struggles, Velma was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2000. Back in that late 90’s and early 2000’s our small community didn’t have the neurologists or specialists that could guide our family or educate us, so we were left in the dark. Our family had to educate ourselves through books and IF someone had dial up internet, we could look on there for the Alzheimer’s Association as well. It wasn’t until one day when my grandma was “babysitting” my brother and almost burnt the house down, that my subconscious made it my mission to learn all about this terrible disease.
When I was finishing up high school and looking at colleges, my biggest concern was leaving my family in Anacortes, well that didn’t last long. I applied for every college (with a football team) that I could find in Montana. It just so happened that my first acceptance letter came from MSU-Bozeman, which wasn’t too far from Adelaide’s (Velma’s sister) home. I knew I was destined to follow my roots back to Montana.
In the fall of 2009, I start my first semester at Montana State University. I always knew that I wanted to go into the medical field of some sort, so I started taking nursing classes. I went three quarters of the way through nursing school until life took a different path. In 2012, I gave birth to my beautiful daughter who was named after Velma’s mother and grew to love and cherish the Alzheimer’s in little grandma. Even though little grandma was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s she always seemed to know who her little great granddaughter was… The heart has strange ways of knowing things when the brain can’t remember. It was in those moments of interactions that I decided that I wanted to help other families navigate this disease, so I switched majors and entered the Community Health Program with a minor in Gerontology.
After a few short days in new classes, I knew I had found my passion. Working with the elderly in any capacity brightens my day tremendously. Knowing that I can be there for you or your loved one and make a difference in someone’s life, gives me the utmost gratitude and joy. Knowing that my family didn’t have the resources for my grandma that we now have is very saddening, but who’s to say that I can’t pass on my experience and knowledge to others.
I hope that one day, my dream of Heart to Heart Home Care and our family of caregivers can give you a heartwarming and positive experience that you or your loved one deserves.
We look forward to working with you!