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Michigan woman brightens senior facility with jigsaw puzzles

August 19, 2018

FORT GRATIOT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — With a view of the bird feeders and flowers out the window, Sally Eagen assembles her own masterpiece bit by bit. About a thousand puzzle pieces were laid out across the table as an image gradually took form.

Eagen, 93, started doing jigsaw puzzles after she moved into the Lakeshore Woods assisted living facility in Fort Gratiot in 2014. She wasn’t an enthusiast before, but picked up the pieces as a way to pass the time. Sometimes she has problems sleeping at night, and heads to her puzzle to relax.

“I was bored and I don’t like crafts,” Eagen told the Port Huron Times Herald .

Now the halls of Lakeshore Woods are covered with Eagen’s work. Her largest project is a 3,000-piece depiction of a mountain, water and woodland scene.

It took her about a year to fit together about 2,999 of those pieces. She got all the way to the end of the puzzle to find that it had one piece missing. She got another copy of puzzle, sorted through the 3,000 pieces to find the one she needed, and finished it. It is framed and hangs on a wall at Lakeshore Woods with the others.

Eagen typically does 1,000-piece puzzles, which can take a couple of months.

“I’m not fast on it. I just do it for fun,” Eagen said.

Eagen’s strategy for completing the puzzles involves sorting the pieces by color into different paper plates. That way, if she’s working on a section, she can sort through a pile of pieces that fit with that part of the image. Several puzzles on the walls come in the shape of maple leaves, and thus lack traditional starting points like edge and corner pieces.

Eagen recently celebrated her birthday with her family. She has no children of her own but has 27 nieces and nephews. She grew up as a country girl around Brimley, before going into accounting work and operating a keypunch for companies like Chrysler and Mueller Brass.

“It’s no surprise with the puzzles; she’s very good with her hands,” nephew Mike Howard said.

Nephew Dave Tokarski said Eagen usually likes to keep her birthdays a quiet affair; just cake, coffee and a few friends. But the family tries to do something special anyway. When asked what gifts they got her, Tokarski laughed.

“She’s got enough puzzles for now,” Tokarski said.

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Information from: Times Herald, http://www.thetimesherald.com

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