Mary Ellen Bridwell honored for her compassionate character

The Edmond City Council and the Character Council of Edmond, on June 28, 2010, recognized Edmond’s Mary Ellen Bridwell as a Champion of Character for her character trait of compassion. The presentation was made by Character Council board member Emoly West, who is the current Miss Oklahoma 2010.

The character trait of compassion can be defined as “investing whatever is necessary to heal the hurts of others,” which is what prompted Edmond Pharmacist Lee Lavender to nominate Bridwell as a Champion of Character.

In Lavender’s nomination, she wrote: “Mary Ellen Bridwell displays characteristics of compassion in her daily dealings with her aging mother. Anyone who has cared for an elderly family member knows that it is in an up and down experience, much like riding a roller coaster.”

“One day can be a really good one, with little pain and few difficulties, then inexplicably the next day drops to the bottom,” continued Lavender.

“Mary Ellen has been at her mother’s side sharing those days and filling them with comfort and companionship while helping her mother’s caregivers understand her personal needs. Mary Ellen makes sure that her mother’s medications are always refilled when needed, and clearly marked so there is no misunderstanding on how and when they should be given. She cares for her mother’s personal needs too, making sure that she is physically and spiritually comfortable. That can range from scheduling hair appointments to holding her mother’s hand as she faces the uncertainties of nearing the end time. Mary Ellen radiates empathy and sympathy when she offers to stay by her mother’s side in this journey until she reaches that gate one must enter alone.”

While living with unflinching devotion to her mother’s needs, added Lavender, “Mary Ellen is truly remarkable in her ability to identify the needs of others and provide the necessary solace. She finds time to dry her friend’s tears over the loss of a pet that must be put to sleep.”

The benefits of her compassion, attested Lavender, are peace and comfort to an aging mother, inspiration to her family, friends and coworkers: “She sets an example for all of us to follow.”

Mary Ellen’s mother passed away in May: “She was holding her in her arms,” said Mary Ellen’s husband, Gary Bridwell.

“At her Mom’s funeral,” said Gary, “she did a eulogy, but focused it on all the people who had helped her and her Mom along the way in making her Mom’s ‘golden years’ special. Mary Ellen felt strongly that the compassion of others towards her Mom be recognized publicly and she used her eulogy to make certain that those folks knew the impact they had made and how much they were loved.”

“She talks often about how she learns from them and how she is lifted up by their spirit to embrace life in their older years as well as the stories of their life – what made them who they are. She has actually made an effort to truly get to know them; not just say hello,” adds Bridwell. There were lots of evenings that Mary Ellen arrived home later than when she was expected, explained Gary, “Because she had stopped when one of her Mom’s friends would want to visit, even if she was heading out.

“The others who are in their golden years have taught her a valuable life’s lesson about listening to and honoring our elderly, those who she worries that so many times in our busy, high-tech world with all the other distractions of life are perhaps forgotten or brushed past. She holds their hands and listens. She tells me what a blessing those folks are to her and she worries about them, especially the ones who might not have family close by to visit. Mary Ellen considers many of the other residents at Touchmark as ‘other mothers/grandmothers’ to her and she treasures her time visiting with them.”

The Character of Compassion fits Mary Ellen to the tee, praised her husband, “I have learned so much from her.”

Character Council of Edmond president, Jim Hulsey, was pleased to have Bridwell join the ranks of Edmond’s Character Champions. Lee Lavender, who nominated Bridwell, is herself a past Champion of Character (discernment in June 2007), as well as Mary Ellen’s husband, Gary Bridwell (resourcefulness in April 2006).

“It’s this accumulation of notable people and organizations that helps to build Edmond as a community of character,” said Hulsey. “Mary Ellen Bridwell fits the compassionate model we honor her for, as she continues to bring comfort and inspiration to the community.”

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