“Senior living.” “Retirement community.”
Some people find those words comforting — an opportunity to shed the hassles of home ownership and live comfortably with others their own age, often in a setting where some of life’s tasks are eased.
Other people find those words terrifying — loss of independence, possibly reduced contact with the outside world, and the sale of a home that’s seen decades of family memories.
(It’s fair to say that some people wrestle with both emotions, too.)
I don’t know for sure, but it’s possible that this week’s calendar entry finds my grandparents thinking about which side they fell on.
Google says there are a couple of Heritage Villages in the U.S., including one here in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania.
Most likely, the one being referred to on my grandparents’ calendar is a retirement community in Southbury, Connecticut. That’s between Danbury and Waterbury, near Woodbury and Middlebury (what is it with all these -burys?), roughly 50 miles from the family home in Stamford.
According to Wiki, Heritage Village in Southbury opened in 1967 and ranks as New England’s largest retirement community, with about 4,000 residents. It’s large enough to be a census-designated place of its own; and as of the 2000 census, the median age there was 75 years.
The question in regard to this week’s entry — written in my grandma’s writing, for what that’s worth — is:
Were my grandparents simply planning to go visit an old friend or acquaintance who had moved to Heritage Village?
Or — with my grandpa in so-so health, recently signed up for Social Security, and my great-grandma edging toward 90 — did they give thought to selling the old house on Hope Street and going the retirement-village route?
My dad believes they were only planning to visit a friend at Heritage Village. He doesn’t recall them bringing up senior communities back then.
For that matter, they didn’t bring it up when they left Stamford for Rochester in the mid-’80s, either. Not until 1998, when my grandfather was 88 years old, did my grandparents sell their home and move into an assisted living facility.
(My great-grandma, who died in 1994, moved separately into a senior care facility for the last few years of her life. It was no longer feasible for my grandparents to take care of her at home.)
To me, the placement of the Heritage Village item on the top of the calendar suggests that it might have been a visit to case the place out. If they had been visiting a friend, they probably would have made a note on the specific date of the visit, rather than up at the top.
On the other hand, maybe they had a standing invitation to go see a friend sometime, and it was written up at the top as a reminder.
Whichever one it was, they apparently didn’t get to it during June 1975, as it was never crossed off. It showed up again at the top of July’s calendar page, and was once again not crossed off.
I don’t know if they ever got there. But I know they never moved there, which is enough to tell me which side of the senior-living divide they were on.