The building was almost obscured by blooming crabapple and pear trees, but it was the tulips that caught my eye. A flower bed overflowing with orange and purple tulips marked the entrance. I knew the community was there but wasn’t it for Assisted Living? Tom pointed out the sign: Independent Living.
We turned in and drove around the building, checking it out. No balconies. Bad. Carports only. No garages. Very bad. I spotted small courtyards and benches tucked among the trees. Good.
The standard procedure is to research a community online, call and request brochures, and call again for a tour appointment. It’s a weeks-long process.
I urged Tom, “Just drive up in the front circle drive. I’ll run in and ask for information.”
Fifteen minutes later, after whisking Tom inside, Katie, the salesperson, was giving us an impromptu tour. The lobby opened onto a dining room with walls of windows on three sides. The view outside was of a wide stone waterfall. Pottery urns of blooming plants surrounded a terrace arranged with patio furniture so similar to ours, I felt at home.
Inside the building was a maze of angled hallways. Some apartments looked out into the pretty courtyards. Many overlooked treetops. Angled apartment walls and nooks and crannies added charm. No square boxes here, good.
We each wanted our own bedroom. As in all the other communities we had visited, even the two-bedroom apartments were too small to allow the bit of office space Tom needed. Then, Kathie said, “Well, there is one more unit. I shouldn’t show it to you because the former residents lived there a long time, and the apartment hasn’t been cleaned or updated. She went on, “it is actually two, one-bedroom apartments that have been combined. One of the two kitchens has been converted into an office.” As she opened the door, Kathie emphasized “the apartment can be completely renovated.”
The door opened. Sunshine streamed in from large windows in every room. The bright light highlighted the dirty wrinkled tan carpet. Sad tan walls. Scarred tan countertops and greasy backsplash. Ancient white stove with crusty oven. (Who cooked? Weren’t meals in the dining room included?) Bathroom fixtures from the 70s.
I tried to focus. Kathie was reeling off potential: fresh paint, new appliances, new fixtures, new countertops and backsplash, and new flooring. Ugly now. But windows. Fourteen windows. And office space.
Tom and I looked at each other. Yes! We would take it.
It was as if someone had zapped us into an HGTV home makeover show. In a daze of happy excitement, we chose new paint, flooring, lighting, countertops, backsplash, doors, and appliances. They would do it in six weeks.
Could they fulfill all they promised? They did.
I felt like a rabbit that had landed in clover.