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Helen Aberth’s world only expanded when she moved into Riverside Healthy Living Community - Smithfield back in 2012.

She’s made the outdoor garden her own. She plants seeds. She weeds. She prunes the rose bushes.

The extreme temperatures can be an occasional deterrent.

“I stuck my head out at 9 a.m. today and could feel the heat,” said Aberth, who at 95-years-old doesn’t use a walker and only occasionally needs a cane. “I said, ‘Oh, well! Maybe tomorrow will be better.’”

If a resident is sick, Aberth is the first to write a get-well card.

“She’s really the welcome wagon of that place,” said her daughter, Beth.

While COVID-19 has made socializing more challenging, Aberth refuses to get down about it.

“We’re all trying to make the best of it,” she said. “We have slowly started, a couple of us, going to our dining room for breakfast, lunch and supper. There’s only four or five of us in there. We’re so happy to see each other. We can talk for 15 minutes! Isn’t that great? We’ve come a long way.”

Back in 2012, Aberth planned to move into Magnolia Manor, the assisted living area of the Riverside community, with her husband of more than 60 years, whom she affectionally refers to as “Father.” He died 10 days before they were set to start their new life.

“After that, I did not want to come,” Aberth admitted. “I was very lonesome at first.”

With Beth’s help, it didn’t take long for Helen to feel at home at Magnolia Manor. Mother and daughter enjoy antiques, and Helen Aberth brought many of those with her to decorate her apartment. While she’s downsized, Helen still holds on to a few precious linens, some glassware and hats, and a teddy bear or two from what was once an oversized collection.

Beth Aberth initially worried about her mom contracting COVID-19. She considered moving her into the in-law suite of her Rescue home.

“I live in the country, and she would have no stimulus here,” said Beth, who frequently works 60- to 70-hour weeks as a nurse. “I decided leaving her there was safer, and I’m glad I did. I have full belief that she is extremely well taken care of.”

Helen seconds that. “We haven’t had one single case of COVID here, and we’re thankful.”