… this place has been good for me. I’ve gotten away from just sitting, watching the boob tube and reading and I’m active and everybody calls you by name, I mean the people that are here and I can’t call one fifth of them by their name and every doggone one of them knows me by name and I don’t know what kind of a device they use. You go down the hall and it’s like meeting, you know, somebody that’s there because they want to be there.
George Norwood Interview, March 2014
Interview starts at 5:42
J: Good afternoon!
G: Hello, this is George Norwood.
J: Hi Mr. Norwood, this is Jill Hofer and I also have my coworker, Ines Newby with me.
I: Hello, how are you?
G: I’m doing fine Ines.
I: Oh, great.
J: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us, we really appreciate it.
G: Ok, what can we do for you?
J: Well, what we’re trying to do is speak with some residents and learn a little bit about that process that people go through when they are on the fence “do I move to a supportive community, you know a retirement place, do I stay in this house?” and all the things that they kind of experience. Now, it’s not so much about “yay Greenbriar, everybody needs to move to Greenbriar” although we love Greenbriar and it’s a great place but more so about, oh you know, general advice, “how to learn what’s right for you” “how it felt like before and after.” So really I just have a few questions and any perspective that you share will be of great help.
G: Ok, glad to help.
J: Oh, super, thanks so much. Now, when did you move to Greenbriar?
G: When did I first hear of it?
J: When did you move to The Fountains at Greenbriar?
G: A little over two years ago.
J: Oh, ok, ok, and before that were you in the area?
G: Yes, I was in the area and lived with my son and his wife, my daughter-in-law in a town about ten miles away.
J: For a lot of years or a short time?
G: I think I lived with them between eight and nine years. He’s president of an insurance company and has a very large home. I had fabulous accommodations there.
J: That’s great. Oh, that’s wonderful. Are you from the state? Did you raise your kids there and whatnot?
G: Yes, every residence I’ve had from the time I was born until I moved here was a Missouri address, all of them in the western part of the state and most of them around Kansas City area.
J: Ok, alright, ok, sometimes we talk to folks who are at our Florida communities and they are never from there originally, they’ve all just about moved there a long time ago.
G: I moved about eight or ten miles.
J: Ok, well that works. And so when you think back to a couple years ago what was it that motivated you to make a change?
G: Well, I was eighty-five and it was obvious that my health was going to be going bad in the next few years and I didn’t want my daughter-in-law to have to take care of me even though they had great accommodations for me and it was their idea for me to move in with them, I thought it would be best to let her have a little freedom, she had raised her three children and it was time for her to begin to enjoy some of the life for herself.
J: Wow, that’s nice. And so you’re just being very proactive, kind of just took the bull by the horns and what did you do? Did you start doing some research or visiting places?
G: Yeah, first I’d done this about eight or nine years ago, I kept a notebook and I went to probably a dozen, fifteen places. I cut it down to about ten and then rated them in certain areas and this place come out number one at that time so I kind of pushed this stuff back for seven or eight years. Then when I’d pulled it back out again and made up my mind it was time to go out on my own I thought “well, let’s just go over and visit them” and when I got here I said “find me a room, this is where I want to go.”
J: That’s great.
G: They brought me to this room and it’s the only one I looked at. These are the only quarters I looked at; they’re on the main floor, ground floor, and have an exit, very nice.
J: That is nice. Oh, wow, that’s stupendous so you really didn’t agonize or torture yourself over “where do I go, where do I want to be?”
G: No, there was two other places I probably should have considered both of them excellent homes and would have been good choices but my mother died at one of them and my wife died at the other one so I just eliminated them and as I say, this place came in number one and I have not regretted coming here.
J: Whenever I see, you know, the events and the programs and whatnot coming out of Greenbriar it just looks like so much fun and of course I love Desiree and everybody there is real good, nice people. Oh, that’s great…
G: Go ahead.
J: I was just going to say, you know, tell me more about that so yeah, you feel free, anything that comes to mind.
G: Well, they have a lot of things going on here that I don’t participate in by choice. I still have my car, as I say I’m eighty-seven, and I have a lady friend that’s eighty-three and she lives about four or five miles away and we visit back and forth, go out to eat a lot so I miss some of the activities here. When the time comes that it’s necessary to give my car up, I’ll probably take more of the bus trips and visits out to restaurants and stuff with the group. Right now I kind of like my freedom of go and come as I wish.
J: Sure, you’ve got the best of both worlds.
G: Yeah, I have a good car and actually I park within a hundred feet of my apartment, it’s real nice.
J: That’s really great. Yeah, just convenience, convenience is king.
J: Alrighty, let’s see here, let me turn back to these questions, now you mentioned you were with your son and do you have other kids? Were they at all involved with helping you to decide where to go?
G: Well, we had three kids, two of them are in Japan right now teaching English and the third one, the girl just graduated from an engineering school up in Michigan, used to be the General Motors School of Technology, she’s a brilliant young lady.
G: Right now she’s taking telephone interviews from numerous companies, they place almost all their people real quick and when it left Terry and Robin, my son and his wife, alone it looked like the thing to do. Give them a chance and they have traveled extensively which I appreciate.
J: Nice, yeah, that’s wonderful so and how does he feel about you being there, is he glad you’re?
G: He’s been kind of quiet about it, we went to China together about three months ago and in a week of living right together, you know, the subject didn’t come up. So, he’s pretty quiet, well, it’s a big house. It’s a several hundred thousand dollar home and he bought it with the understanding that I would move in with them and there would be plenty of room for me and there was but again, you know I would have hated for somebody to feel like I had to take care of everybody after I retired. I think it’s working out for the best.
J: Well, that’s good and you can sure see them anytime.
G: I’m sorry.
J: And you could sure see him and his wife any old time that you wanted to.
J: You know, you could go stay for a weekend or whatever if you felt like you wanted to.
G: Yeah, this place has been good for me. I’ve gotten away from just sitting watching the boob tube and reading and I’m active and everybody calls you by name, I mean the people that are here and I can’t call one fifth of them by their name and every doggone one of them knows me by name and I don’t know what kind of a device they use. You go down the hall and it’s like meeting, you know, somebody that’s there because they want to be there.
G: I think they do a good job with their hiring here.
J: Oh good, that’s important, that’s really important and I think the people are probably the most important reason to move anywhere.
G: Yeah in the lunch room we’ve got a tremendous bunch of young people, very very attentive, no apologies, they just go do what you ask them.
J: Nice, that’s great, yeah, and that’s a good experience for them too, they’re getting a little job experience and you know a lot of them it might be one of their first jobs.
G: Yeah, a lot of them seem to be college age. It’s a second job, I had one like that to get through high school.
J: Nice, well that’s good for them. So you said that you don’t partake in just about everything you know because you’ve got a lot going on and you drive and see your lady friend, is there anything that you do take a moment to do like any exercise programs or a club or a card game?
G: I can’t do the exercise and I did for eight years I was at a twenty-four hour club and that’s where I met my lady friend, we both lost our lifetime companions but I can’t go there because both of my shoulders have been operated on repeatedly and now they’ve got to the point they can’t do anything, but for instance one of the guys had to leave because his brother is in critical condition he asked if I would take over bingo tonight. I like to do things like that, I like to be available if somebody needs help or somebody needs to go to the drug store I can run them, that kind of stuff makes you feel like there is still something in life worth doing.
J: Yeah, that’s what community is all about, isn’t it?
J: That’s great. That’s what we want it to be like a family of friends, you know, people who can count on each other. Oh, that’s nice, ok, so let’s see, a lot of our interviews we spend a lot of time talking about folks who were reluctant or they didn’t want to give up this or that or they were scared but it sounds like you don’t have that, you don’t need to be asked any of these questions here that I usually ask.
G: When the time comes I’ve got to give that car up, and it will come, it’s going to be a bad day but I think I’ll be mature enough to accept it.
J: To just let it go.
G: I think I’ll recognize that day when it comes.
J: You know my mom just told me just yesterday and I’m not kidding you, just yesterday she said “now nobody better tell me what to do but I’m giving my car to Tyler” and she’s going to give it to Tyler and she said “If I want to favor Tyler, well I’m going to favor Tyler.” And she’s going to quit driving because she’s having dizzy spells.
G: Well, we see this regular here, every month it seems like somebody gives their car up. But they had it that long. This is almost like warehousing but it’s warehousing with freedoms.
G: There’s no boss holding the door for you. You can come and go as you please.
J: Right, there’s nothing but maybe a welcome you back home, smiling face and a wave on your way out.
G: We kid a lot about running away from home, especially with the woman that’s ten years older than us.
J: Nice, very nice. Let’s see well, I guess really it just comes down to one big last question which is general advice to folks who just are on that fence, you know they’re rattling around maybe in their house that’s you know the gutters are full of leaves and you know there’s the TV dinners in the freezer and haven’t had anything but, like you said, the boob tube and book for two years, any general advice to folks would be great.
G: Well, you just as well enjoy the last years as much as you did the first and if you spend all your time fighting it and complaining that’s where you’re going to be. You got to get out on Sunday and go to church, you got to catch the best movies around, read a good book and be yourself instead of just sitting on your thumb. I think I picked the right place. I don’t push this place to other people, I tell them come and look at my room, come and see how I live but I don’t want anybody to say later on that things did not go right and it was my fault so I tell them “hey, for me it fits.”
J: Perfect, that’s right and if they don’t, you know, take the time to look around someone else is going to have to look around for them and how well is that going to fit?
G: And the gal that runs the place, Desiree, is top drawer. She doesn’t push me, she’s a good gal.
J: I love her too, she’s so nice. I’ll get to see her in late April, she’s going to come to Tucson and we’ll get to meet up and spend a couple days together. I can’t wait to see her. She’s wonderful. Well, I can’t think of any better advice that anybody could give, you know, because all you can do is say what’s right for you and encourage people to figure out the same for themselves.
G: Yeah, don’t let anybody push, but don’t push back too hard yourself, look it over careful. I went places that I would not feel comfortable, the food was so gourmet that I really didn’t care for it. I went to other places where they had bologna sandwiches for lunch, there’s all different categories but this place is well above the average, not perfect but it’s good for me.
J: That’s great.
J: Yeah you’ve got to feel like home, I don’t want to eat at a fancy restaurant every day myself either I might just want a grilled cheese right now, you know.
G: Well, I go out often enough to eat so that I get different variety and you know the food is not perfect but it’s above average and some meals are super.
J: Oh, that’s great.
J: Yes, thank you so much Mr. Norwood we really really appreciate it and I’ll thank Desiree for hooking us up to you because that is really good info and I thank you so much for your time.
G: You have a good day now.
J: Alright, you too. Bye-bye.