The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - R6
A RESIDENT TALKS ABOUT LIVING IN THE ROANOKE
RETIREMENT COMMUNITY BRANDON OAKS - ITS JOYS,
ITS REALITIES, ITS DISTINCT LACK OF "ORGAN RECITALS."
What's it really like to live in a retirement community? The ads make it look like heaven on earth; handsome older men and women, beaming as they vault
over the tennis net, every silver hair in place. "Come
live here," the ads imply, "and you will be just like this,
athletic, vibrant, full of life, having a wonderful time,
easily passing for 5o."
Certainly you won't be old. Heaven forbid.
When my husband and I started thinking about
moving to Brandon Oaks, I worried about a million
things - finding a home for our old, sick dog, needing space for a grand piano, what to do about the
sideboard and the dining room table, all the people
I'd have to notify, and on and on.
What I didn't think about turned out to be the
most important thing of all - people. Not just the
staff I'd met but the bright man next door, the helpful
couple down the hall. The biggest thing about being
here turned out to be not things but people, a whole
And like a family, things aren't going to be rosy all
the time. But the neat thing about a retirement community is this - you're independent, you retain your
individuality, and you can partake of the "family" as
much or as little as you choose.
There are people here I've never met, though they've
lived here much longer than I. There are people here
from other parts of the community, the new section
called The Pines, the older section of large homes,
whose schedules are so different from mine that I seldom see them. There are others I see daily, and enjoy.
And what a fantastic bunch of people they are.
Teachers - lots of teachers.
Military men, from generals to a D-Day veteran
who recently won the French Legion of Honor.
Doctors, lawyers. No merchant chiefs but plenty of
business people. Lots of homemakers with fascinating stories to tell. Librarians. Engineers. People who
lived all over the country and some who never set
foot outside Roanoke. Different religions and races,
different ethnic backgrounds, different viewpoints.
Weirdly, we all get along.
Of course, there are a few residents who stay holed
up in their living quarters, and that's their right, but
most don't. For most residents, life here doesn't shut
down, it opens up. It offers a reason to get up in the
morning. Possibilities. So most stay busy with all the
activities here, and quite a few are also active in the
big world outside. Being a poll watcher. Manning the
information desk at Center in the Square. Running
a business. Volunteering for area charities or putting
in long hours for their church. Helping at the Rescue
Mission. Teaching math to local school kids.
Nobody here is going to run for president or cure
cancer. All of us have problems, just like those outside of the community. We're not famous and certainly not all rich. What we are is a cross-section of
society who've found a safe and useful life. It's not
perfect, but nothing is.
Are there drawbacks to retirement living? Certainly. Because of the building we chose to live in,
there's no covered parking for my five-year-old Prius,
and I miss that. My sons used to accuse me of parking my car in the living room. On the other hand,
we could have chosen other accommodations that
do offer covered parking.