Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Daughter shines in her mother's twilight years

TEMPLE TERRACE

Two years ago, Judy Dennis packed up her dining room and put it in storage.

Her mother had suffered a stroke.

Every day since then, three times a day, pureed potatoes and eggs and yogurt and fruits are spooned to Annie Lee Enfinger, who sits propped in the bed where the table had been.

Life unfolds around her. Meals are eaten in sight. News and cooking shows play on the living room television.

"How do I look?" Enfinger asked her daughter last week.

"So pretty, Mama," said Dennis, who is 61. "Those pink polka dots bring out your rosy cheeks."

Dennis cleans her mother and doles out medications and curls her hair and paints her nails. When Dennis goes to work as a sheriff's deputy at the Orient Road Jail, her husband, David, fills in. At night, their son, who lives upstairs, keeps watch from the loft.

Some days, Dennis' sister comes over.

Their mother is never alone.

Enfinger was born in Georgia in 1925.

She married at 15, and about 10 years later moved to Tampa. She kept an immaculate house on Emma Street in Seminole Heights and later in Brandon.

She's just 4 feet, 11 inches tall, but her four children knew better than to sass her.

"You didn't mess with Mama," said Joann Buie, 64. "She was tough, but she had a heart."

Besides raising a quartet of children, Enfinger helped with eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

She dressed her two daughters like twins, in polka dot dresses. She never left the house without makeup on and her auburn hair done up. For a time, she worked the cash register at Eckerd drugstore.

She was a master at corn bread, using cornmeal and peanut oil from Alabama. She starched and ironed their clothes, even the sheets. She nursed them when sick and made them her life.

When her daughters married and started their own families, Enfinger became a shopping partner, especially for shoes and pocketbooks. As a mother herself, Dennis came to appreciate her mother even more.

"I did not realize how much work my mother did," Dennis said.

After the stroke, Enfinger went under the care of Lifepath Hospice.

She has stayed in the program, with extensions, because her health continues to slowly deteriorate. She has dementia and can only move one arm and sometimes acts like a toddler.

When David Dennis comes home, he sometimes asks her how her day was and she tells him she was up doing laps around the pool. He laughs.

She's holding on.

"I've been sick a long time," Enfinger said. She fiddles with a necklace of three diamonds, a gift from her husband, as well as his wedding ring on another chain. He died almost a decade ago. They were married for 65 years.

The daughters packed up all Enfinger's things and put them in storage. Their mother likes knowing her things are safe.

"You never know when you might move, right, Mama?" Dennis said.

Taking care of her mother is a labor of love, she said. And it's nothing more than her mother did for her.

"It's a big job," she said. "You can't just trust it to anyone."

Elisabeth Parker can be reached at eparker@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3431.

Daughter shines in her mother's twilight years 05/11/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 10, 2013 3:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. After huge sinkhole opens, residents weigh future with unease

    Public Safety

    LAND O'LAKES — The wood floors creak each time Kendra Denzik dashes inside her darkened home to grab fresh clothes. She can't help but panic when they do.

    Eleven families along Ocean Pines Drive in Land O’Lakes homes are fenced in due to the massive sinkhole from last Friday on Thursday, July 20, 2017. The Doohen’s are among 11 families who had to evacuate from their homes.
  2. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members

    News

    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  3. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion

    Markets

    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  4. Photo gallery: Minors also a training ground for umpires with big-league dreams

    News

    Taylor Payne, 24, and Tom Fornarola, 23, are two of the 23 first-year umpires scattered around the bottom rungs of minor-league baseball this summer. They never met until they were assigned together but quickly developed a strong rapport. Like the players themselves, the two umpires have dreams of reaching the major …

  5. Minors also a training ground for umpires with big-league dreams

    The Heater

    Umpire Tom Fornarola, 23, left, and Taylor Payne, 24, facing, talk before the start of the Gulf Coast League game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers at the Tigertown complex in Lakeland, Fla. on Wednesday, July 5, 2017.