“It seems for so much of my life, I’ve barely kept my head above water. Every day was a kaleidoscope menagerie filled with an endless to-do list. Raising my children, creating a home, juggling a job left me exhausted at the end of the day – satisfied, but exhausted. My silent prayer each night, before my eyes closed in slumber, was the gentle goodnight kiss of my Beloved. In those tender moments, my thoughts would cease and I would feel the joy of this lovely life wash over me.

Today, my life is completely different, no longer do I have to rush, rush, rush against time, space and Mother Nature. These days, I wake up when I want, and plan each day based on the amount of gumption I feel I can satisfactorily muster.

This morning seems a little more difficult than most. I’m finding it more challenging to get out of bed quickly during this particular holiday season. Change has never been easy for me, but I knew deep down in my soul, it was time for a move. I was actually surprised how easily I was able to let go of the home I had cherished for 30 years, and become excited about living in a senior living retirement community.

Constant socialization is what I was missing – what I was craving- but this morning, my mind wants to linger to days gone by, to a December with a house filled with the aroma of freshly baked goods, the sounds of my children’s laughter echoing throughout the house, and the feeling of a warm crackling fire in the fireplace. I want to just stay in bed and travel back…. And I do, but not for too long. That same inner voice that nudged me to move into the lovely Bethesda Orchard is the same voice that commands me out of bed now.

So I begrudgingly get up, and begin to make myself presentable. My inclination is to grab my warm, comfy, drab clothes, but I’ve found people relate to me a little better when I dress with care, and always throw in an extra splash of color, just for the fun of it.

I set off down the hall still wrapped up in my memories as, one-by-one, I’m greeted with friendly face after friendly face. And as I match their morning smiles with my own, I quickly find myself letting go of the earlier nostalgia, and remember so clearly why I’m here, why I’m feeling more and more that sense of belonging.

I have fun here at Bethesda Orchard, which actually still catches me by surprise. We seem more like a bunch of college co-eds at an all inclusive resort, sometimes, laughing and talking like we don’t have a care in the world. I find myself going to places and events I never had time for before. Our activity director plans out-going trips and in-house activities that intrigue me and stimulate my mind, and at times, sets my spirit soaring. Like for instance, there was this musical group called “Wack-A-Doo” last Saturday night that was a real hoot and a half. The flyer on the bulletin board said, “Vintage Swing – Folksy Americana – Speakeasy Syncopation.” I mean, what is that?! So I went down to find out, and to my delight found myself like a child at a circus. The music was so light and playful, that soon that’s exactly the way I felt; which ironically, is the point I’m trying to illustrate.

Before I came here to Bethesda Orchard, my identity seemed already defined; which was perfectly fine by me. But as they say, “you don’t miss what you never knew.” Nowadays, I try to immerse myself in a variety of activities, to try on new experiences, to see how I’m altered or expanded by each. The changes in some may be mild, but in others, I feel as though I’m opening the door to a side of myself that’s been peacefully sleeping.

And as I make my way back to my apartment at the end of the day, I smile…. All my cherished memories are safe and sound, and seem to reside somewhere behind this smile you see – including all those made in the last few hours. My interests continue to grow, and I think, perhaps, that makes me an interesting person – someone you may want to meet. Perhaps tomorrow, we will….”

Are You Ready for Independent Living?

With 133 years of experience, our non-profit has set the bar for quality and compassionate senior living in St. Louis. If you are considering independent living, we encourage you to tour our communities, including Bethesda Barclay House – Clayton, Bethesda Gardens – Kirkwood, Bethesda Orchard – Webster Groves, Bethesda Terrace – South County, Village North Retirement Community – Florissant, and The Oaks at Bethesda Villas – Kirkwood/Webster.

With our full spectrum of care, including independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing, rest assured that all of your care needs will be met by highly-trained nurses and aides.