After 23 very happy years of retirement in the "active adult" community called "Salemtowne," we recently subjected ourselves to one of the most stressful experiences known--moving! And, why did we do this? Certainly not because we were unhappy at Salemtowne. But our two level home, with a larger-than-average lot was becoming more difficult to maintain as our bodies started balking at weeding, climbing steps, and performing all the tasks that go with home ownership. Even worse, Barbara developed a serious aversion to cooking!
In the fall of 2007 we started visiting the various retirement centers near Salem. Our search was narrowed when we discarded all the places that did not have the three major levels of care: independent living, assisted living and long term care (once known as nursing homes). If we were going to make this major move, we only wanted to do it once! Our final choice was "Avamere Court at Keizer" about six miles from Salemtowne. We were very familiar with this retirement center, as Glenn's mother spent her last years in their long-term care unit, while Barbara's parents lived in all three levels from 1992 to 1998.
In mid-March we made a deposit on a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment at Avamere Court--right across the hall from where Barbara's parents had lived! From the decks off our living room and bedroom, we could look out on the pretty courtyard below. Avamere was willing to hold the apartment for us until the end of May. We hoped that would give us time to trim down our belongings from what fit in a 2400-sq. foot house to what would go in a 960 sq. foot apartment. We also put our house up for sale and hoped for the best in what was rapidly becoming a very dismal real estate sales market.
Our house soon looked more like a moving and storage center than a lived-in home, as the packed boxes began piling up. We pored over a floor plan of our apartment, moving little paper cut-outs of our furniture to decide what we could take and what would have to be disposed of. Lots of wrenching decisions were made--it's not easy to see the accumulation of almost 58 years of marriage be drastically trimmed.
Two early house sales were terminated but we decided it would be harder to unpack than to move, so on May 20 a moving company van (provided by Avamere) pulled up to our Winslow Way house and loaded the furniture that we hoped to keep, plus 160 boxes. Our children arrived to help with the move and with the big garage/estate sale that took place a couple days later. Neither Mark nor Karen had ever participated in a garage sale, but they gamely went to work on organizing the "stuff" that seemed to keep pouring out of closets, cupboards and storage areas. They no doubt both made vows to trim down their own belongings immediately, but we foiled that by loading them down with all the "stuff" that we could!
We spent the next three and a half weeks commuting between new apartment and old house. Those 160 boxes had to go somewhere, and the plan was to bring steel shelving from the house and set it up in a nice storage room located right in our apartment. This sounded easier than it was but ultimately the storage room was lined with shelving and the shelves are now filled to capacity with boxes. Anyone who suffers from claustrophobia would be advised to avoid our storage room--it can only be entered sideways! But, it DID allow us to keep a lot of family records, and items that Glenn hopes to sell on E-Bay as time goes by. Barbara's goal is to digitize all those family photos and documents so ultimately the storage shelves should empty out a good bit. We shall see!
On June 8 we got another offer on our house and by June 16 the sale was completed. That removed a good deal of the stress of the move and we are now looking forward to enjoying this new lifestyle. The Avamere staff are very helpful, the other residents friendly, and the apartment is comfy and quiet, even though we are very close to shopping, banks, etc.
And, Barbara's dream has come true--the food is excellent, and she never has to cook it! We are both impressed with the restaurant-style menu, and flexible dining hours. Breakfast is available from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., with menu choices such as: Omelets made to order, pancakes & waffles, French Toast, all kinds of hot and cold cereals, and Glenn's personal favorite: Eggs Benedict. Lunch begins when breakfast ends, at 11 a.m and is served until 3 p.m. In addition to a full salad bar, there are soups, salads, plus eighteen different sandwiches and lunch entrees. Dinner starts at 3 p.m. and is available until 6 p.m. With 23 different entrees, including steak, salmon, chicken, and pastas to choose from, it will take us weeks to sample everything! We also appreciate the availability of a cold beer or glass of wine with lunch and dinner.
It's always hard to look into the future, but we're hopeful that we can continue to enjoy retirement at Avamere, just as much as we enjoyed our years at Salemtowne.
The rest of this tale can be viewed in a photo album.
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Barbara and Glenn Halliday,
June 27, 2008
Unless otherwise noted, text and photos are the property of Glenn and Barbara Halliday, © 2008