A while back I experienced one of the sweetest if not somewhat sad stories of a couple moving into one of our senior communities. It’s a story I’ve since seen repeated a few times, and it’s always touching to me.
For many of us, the longer we’re married to our sweethearts, the more enduring our love is for them. Life and circumstances change, but our relationships tend to mature and take on a wonderful dimension.
As it’s the season for remembering our valentines, I’d like to share this with you.
A 55+ Valentines Story:
Before I start, I’d like to preface this for anyone who has never before visited one of our active adult communities. At Leisure Villas, we build communities that are age restricted. These communities, as I mentioned, are for active adults.
These is not nursing care communities.
What you’ll find when you come visit, is a neighborhood with hundreds of people over 55 years old, who are enjoying the empty nester stage of their lives, living around others who are in a similar circumstance.
Family and grandkids are still a big part of their lives, but so are their neighbors. Here they are able to establish incredible friendships that would be difficult in a normal subdivision.
Once upon a time…
Not too long ago, I was conducting a home-owner orientation as we were preparing for a couple to close on their new home. She (we’ll call her Angie) was your typical active adult, with a lot of energy and a quick wit.
Her husband (we’ll call him Bill), was pushing a seated walker around. After we toured half of the house, he took a breathless moment to sit down while Angie and I finished our tour of the home.
Everything went very well and by the time we were done, Angie and Bill felt informed and excited about their new purchase.
I didn’t think a whole lot of this encounter at first, but a few weeks later, I saw Bill sitting out on his front porch. I happened to be passing close by, so I stopped for a minute to say hello. I shortly concluded that I hadn’t met many people nicer than Bill. If anything, I had to try hard to pull myself away from our conversation so that I could get back to work.
However, before I parted company, I learned that Bill was suffering from kidney problems and probably more. He was very optimistic about life, but it was evident that he didn’t expect to have many more years left.
He related how much he loved this 55+ community, naming his neighbors and what good people they were. Frankly, I’d heard them say similar things about him. What I remember most though, is how little he focused on himself. His joy was in seeing his wife thriving in this new community.
They’d enjoyed their previous home with all their great neighbors there, but most of them were at different stages of life, affording fewer opportunities for the sort of friendships his wife valued.
He then confided in me that she was skeptical about moving to a senior community, afraid that everyone there would be “old.” Reluctantly, she came along and slowly started warming up to the idea of living in one of our communities.
“Why did you want to bring her here so badly?” I asked him.
“Because I didn’t want to leave her lonely,” he said.
He explained that he didn’t have a lot of time left on this earth. To stay in their old home would’ve been terribly difficult for her. It had nothing to do with the yard maintenance or snow removal, since they hired a neighbor boy to do that for them anyway. But he knew that when he died, she’d have a lot greater support system here than they had there.
I was touched by his love and the gift that he gave her by moving into our retirement community. It gave me a whole new perspective on my work. For the first time, I really understood that I was building much more than a house of sticks and bricks. I was building something much more meaningful.
About six months later, Bill passed away. Angie grieved, as was expected.
A little later, I had an opportunity to visit with her in her home while I was addressing a small warranty issue. She had very little time and I was trying my best to get the work done so that she could go out to lunch with her lady friends.
At the time, I expressed my sincerest condolences for her husband’s passing. She was very fond of him, and she thanked me for my sentiment. It was then that she told me how moving here had been the best thing they could’ve done.
Being a new widow was hard, perhaps one of the hardest trials she’d ever endured. Aside from family, she expressed how her lady friends here had helped her through the difficult time. Life would still never be the same without him, but she was happy.
Everyone has different reasons for moving to a senior community. The scenario I’ve just related is one that I’ve seen a few times. Other people like the fact that yardwork, snow removal, and all exterior maintenance is taken care of for them. Others still, like the clubhouse with its amenities.
In the end, there is no single reason why our communities have been so popular, but over the years, I’ve learned to treasure all the many wonderful people that I’ve met here, and the stories they’ve shared. They come for all walks of life, and while we do our best to build the type of homes and subdivisions that you’d want to live in, you and those like you, are the ones who truly make these places a community worth living in.