…I had a once-in-a-lifetime issue with blood pressure so I saw the doctor and he said I couldn’t live alone anymore. I didn’t agree with him but my daughter had heard from a friend that lives up Lee’s Summit about this place, about The Fountains, and she brought me immediately here and I rented an apartment for a month. Before the month was up I decided, ‘this is going to be home.’
Dorothy Erickson Interview, May 2014
Interview starts at 12:40
J: Hi there, how are you? This is Jill Hofer at Watermark.
D: Okay, Jill?
J: Jill, like Jack and Jill.
J: Is this Dorothy?
D: This is Dorothy.
D: Yes, Dorothy Erickson.
J: Oh, it’s so nice to speak with you, thank you so much for taking the time to give us a ring today.
D: You’re welcome.
J: Well, we’re excited to talk to you because our whole process here is to learn about the different experiences that residents have had when they are, you know, thinking back to before you moved; the process that you went through, kind of like what went through your mind to make you think “hey I would really maybe like to consider selling this place,” or, you know, selling the condo or the old house and moving to a retirement community. So really there is no wrong answer just your experiences and I know that we’re going to learn a lot and I can’t tell you how highly recommended you were for this call. Everybody loves you over there; you are everybody’s kind of inspiration for having a great spirit about you, so thank you for that too. Well, I thought so too, it makes for much more fun phone call too, I love to talk to people who are like… so how do you feel about if I ask you a few questions and then we will just kind of get into your story?
J: Okay, good, great, so it’s Dorothy Erickson and its E-R-I-C-K-S-O-N?
D: Yes ma’am.
J: Super and when did you move to The Fountains?
D: The last of June three years ago, let me go back now this is fourteen, thirteen, twelve.
J: So you’ve been there for a little bit, definitely know the ropes, you know you’ve been there long enough to tell the story of the community as well and where did you live right before you move to The Fountains?
D: I lived down near the Lakeviews, Versailles, Missouri.
J: Oh, ok and how many miles do you think that is to The Fountains?
D: Oh, it’s about…
J: Or time wise, how long does it take you to get there?
D: Not more than a half-hours in.
J: Oh, ok, alright, and that home there, how long did you live in that house?
D: About thirty years.
J: Oh, a lot of memories there then, huh?
J: Definitely and before that were you in the same town?
D: Yes, except that I was living in the Kansas City area until I was about twenty years old then we moved down to the farm near Versailles.
J: Oh, ok, all righty and did you raise a family there or was it just you?
D: Yes, my husband and two daughters and a son and they went to school there, graduated and went on.
J: Ok and now do your kids live in the area in Missouri?
D: I have a daughter that lives about twenty minutes from here in Lee’s Summit.
J: Oh, good, oh that’s nice, oh Lee’s Summit I’ve heard of that
D: And I have a son that lives in Lawrence, Kansas which is a little farther but you know about an hour away, okay.
J: Ok. And then do you have a second daughter?
D: Yes, she lives in Israel.
J: Oh, how interesting, ok well she’s a little bit farther away then isn’t she?
D: I go there every year.
J: Oh, wonderful, neato.
D: Actually, I lived there for ten years.
J: You did?
D: Taking care of the children, keeping house while their parents worked.
J: Interesting, wow you’re quite the traveler.
D: I was blessed.
J: I think so too, I think so, so ok well let’s see here, now when you look back or think back to that last couple of years in the house what made you start thinking “hey, I might want to move?”
D: Actually, I wasn’t thinking that.
D: I moved around a lot, I wintered in Florida and spent time there at the farm in the fall and spring and then I went to Israel for two months after I came back from living there. So I believe that I had a once-in-a-lifetime issue with blood pressure so I saw the doctor and he said I couldn’t live alone anymore. I didn’t agree with him but so my daughter had heard from a friend that lives up Lee’s Summit about this place, about The Fountains, and she brought me immediately here and I rented an apartment for a month. Before the month was up I decided, “this is going to be home.”
J: No kidding?
D: That’s the way I feel now.
J: Well, that was a smart way to go about it you really gave yourself a good trial period.
J: Did you look at any other communities?
D: No, no, no but I hear The Fountains are better than any others.
J: Well, good, and now that you live there you feel great about it?
D: I do, I like it more all the time, I’m so happy here.
J: Oh that’s great, what do you love?
D: What do I like?
J: Like different programs or is it the people?
D: It’s difficult to settle on one thing because I like everything about living here. I made a list, at least a partial list of things, excuse me? If I had to choose one I suppose it’s being a sociable place, it’s small enough that I can get acquainted with everyone here and interact with them and then some other things when I first came and decided on being here it was an attractive place and that’s important I think, it is to me. The grounds are kept lovely and the inside is kept nicely and there is a lot of variety of a lot of activities and I’m an active person. When I first came here I tried to try everything but it was impossible, then I settled down on some things. Earlier there was a resident here that wanted to teach piano, he was a music teacher and a pianist and so I was able to stay here in the community and take piano lessons and that was very enjoyable, then he became ill and passed away so I still have my book and when I have time I still enjoy playing. Then I take part in the chair exercises, which I thought when I came here “well, you know that’s not for me” because I did aerobics and yoga and things down in Florida but I decided to just try it and it’s a great exercise class.
J: Oh good.
D: So that’s really good and I, you know I tell people, other people about it and any of the new ones that come in, I share that with them and I like the food here, I have no complaints about anything really here. I’m easy to please, I don’t believe in looking for something to complain about but I just feel really, really good about everything here. I like the idea of having transportation for medical visits; you know the doctors, one thing or another, the dentists, because I don’t drive anymore. I stopped when I moved here, although I still have a car.
J: Oh you do? Ok.
D: I just think it’s kind of an old friend to me.
J: Oh nice.
D: I let it sit out in the parking lot and then I can see it and I like the laundry facilities, you know they do our flat work and the place is where I can do my personal things, the laundry facilities. I love the staff; they’re all so wonderful and eager to please. I like the idea of choices. I can spend as much time outside of my apartment as I do inside. So I feel like that I’ve really grown mentally here, my mind and because of having different opportunities to choose and also right now I’ve changed my perspective. My focus is on greeting the new residents and helping them get adjusted and then you know kind of keeping up with them in case I visit a little bit briefly because I’m very busy. So that’s about it, there’s probably much more but you have the idea I think.
J: Well, I think that’s a wonderful problem if you can’t make your whole list out of all the reasons that you’re happy. You’ve done a good job of choosing where to be and have a nice attitude which I think is very important.
D: Yeah that’s right.
J: Well, let’s see, that covered a lot of good things which I was going to ask you. How do your kids feel that you’re there?
D: Oh they’re very happy, they’re very happy.
J: What do they say?
D: Excuse me?
J: I said “oh really, what do they have to say about you being there?”
D: Well, they tell me, well I tell them “I’m very happy here, don’t worry about me, go and live your lives and I’ll certainly appreciate it if you come to see me once in a while.” I go to Israel two months out of the year, I have so far to visit my daughter’s family there and so I tell them “I’m happy” and they say “good”. You know and my daughter checks with me, you know but I report to them “I’m happy.” Everything is provided for me, before I need, you know. If the plumbing isn’t right I just, you know, call downstairs and ask for maintenance and they fix it, I don’t have to worry about a thing, so that’s nice too.
J: So that’s really great especially in a snowy country like there to not have to deal with winters.
D: Yes, where are you speaking from?
J: I, right now, live in Tucson, that’s where Watermark is mainly located, out here in Arizona, but I’m from Ohio.
D: You’re from Ohio.
J: I’m certainly more familiar with more weather similar to yours where we have a pretty big winter almost every year.
D: Oh yes.
J: You really had one last year, didn’t you?
D: Oh boy, we did, the Midwest was hit hard, we’re glad for spring.
J: I bet, I bet.
D: But you know, excuse me.
J: Oh go ahead.
D: I am satisfied to be here all the time. I get out about once every month to go out to get, you know, things that I need, personal things. There’s so much to do here, my life is so full that I really don’t feel the need… and then our activity director plans things outside so once in a while I go out with those, you know a good movie, trips to historical places around, you know, in the area and so they take some to the casinos. I went once. I did that so then I have my church services on Skype, on the computer with a group of my friends and that’s nice. So, like I say, I have no need and then my children come see me and not real often because I tell them not to but I talk to my daughter every evening and we talk about what each one of us, she’s a widow now also, we talk about what’s going on in our lives and my daughter likes to check on me and see that everything is going well. And then you know I had a couple of surgeries, one on my feet, had a knee replaced and things like that so it was easy for me to move around here when I came back, you know I had one of those little, I can’t think of it but it’s like a tricycle but I had to scoot, I sat on a little seat and I could scoot with my foot all around. I couldn’t put my weight on my feet you know.
J: Right, right, well that was handy, nice to not have to do that in a big old house with stairs and whatnot.
D: They happen to have the elevators, which is fine too.
J: Do you take any classes there, or teach any classes in the community?
D: Yeah, I’m getting ready to, with another resident here, a fella, to do a thing on Israel, we will have a PowerPoint and, you know, going to give my part on living in Israel because I lived there ten years and he’s going to give a part for the facts more or less and about the history and one thing and then so that’s 12th of June I think. And I’ve had several things. I’ve traveled, so I gave a thing on South Africa and New Zealand and different places, I can’t remember all, you know that’s two I remember, so it’s not nearly all the traveling I’ve done but mostly while I was in Israel because you could go easily from there to a lot of different places to Egypt and Europe and so was easy for me to go and my daughter in Israel encouraged me to do that so that was nice. And let me see, other classes, right now it’s exercise, spending a lot of time with the residents and let me see what else, and I’m a chairman of the Care and Share Committee.
J: Oh really? What do you do there?
D: Excuse me?
J: What does that group do?
D: They take care of seeing that all the residents get a birthday card on their shelf outside their door and a little sign that says “happy birthday: and the name and the date on their door and then one of the ladies takes care of getting cards to the people that go to the hospital and then we’re starting a food drive for schoolchildren for the summer, you know, to provide food because when they’re in school the government pays for those who can afford it for their breakfast and lunches so that some things and of course I attend all of those. I love to dance.
J: Oh you do?
D: Oh yes and we have live music at least once a month and the activity director plans things and decorates to the theme. We’re having a birthday party today and we’re having country music so he’s got it all decorated with straw hats and bandanas and all those things. I take part in all of those and that’s another thing the Care and Share committee does, they pass out cake and punch to everybody and we give them little, those who have a birthday this month, it’s open to all the residents, the party is, and those who have a birthday this month we have nametags that we put on them when they come into the main room where we have the party so it takes up time of mine and I have a lot of things to do, to pass out, because different ones on the committee pass out the birthday cards and announcements on the doors and then when people come in and they are responsible for putting the nametags, I’m trying to think of other places I used to have, I used to have some more classes but it’s been so long since I switched to what I’m doing now.
J: Well, that’s fine, that’s really great information. In fact, this has all been very good and I sort of only have really one more question if I, unless I think of another one here, what advice do you have who are out there in the world who it seems like they’re just never ready, or just afraid to maybe consider a change in their life?
D: Well, I just tell them all the lovely things we have here and tell them that I understand it’s going to be an adjustment but it doesn’t take long to complete that. In fact I just helped a relative who signed up today. She’ll be coming in the thirty-first of this month.
J: Oh that’s great.
D: If I see a tour going on and I have helped with the tours too, you know when they’re looking before they decide to come. If I see a tour going, just walking by, I say “it’s a great place” you know.
J: Oh, great, sometimes they feel more comfortable.
D: Yes and sometimes you’ll stop and talk, you know, and they’ll ask questions but I think most of them, a big part of them are answered by the tour guide but there’s things that I can answer maybe, but I try very hard because I consider this my home. If there’s a piece of paper on the floor I pick it up, you know. I really feel a part here so I can’t say enough good things.
J: Well, that’s wonderful, it does look like a fun community to live in, I just love Desiree I think she’s the tops.
D: Yeah, she is, she and I are good friends.
J: Oh, I bet, now this relative was that your cousin or?
D: Excuse me, relative? Actually, she’s a relative by marriage, it’s my daughter’s husband’s I guess cousin, I don’t know maybe, it’s a family affair.
J: It is hard to figure out those cousins and second cousins.
D: It’s by marriage so you know.
J: Ok, well that’s great they’re going to be moving there, they’ll have a friend built in and you’ll have her there too, that’s nice.
D: Yes, yes she doesn’t want to come but so I’m going to work extra hard to kind of get her adjusted and feeling good about the place
J: Transitions aren’t easy, are they?
D: No, no but it was for me because I moved around so much.
J: True, that’s true.
D: I had already disposed of a lot of things, I lived in a place, on our farm, we have a farm down there where we raised the children and I sold it when I sold the big house. I had a little house built across the driveway and the people that bought the house maintain, you know, my place and so when I’m gone they will have my place but it’s already paid for itself because it’s been quite a while that I sold the place so it’s worked out real well. So I didn’t feel tied down to any one place so it was easier for me, but still you know it’s a, it wasn’t an adjustment at all, I just liked it as soon as I got here even though I didn’t plan on coming you know.
J: Right, right, well that’s wonderful, thank you so much it really was a pleasure speaking with you and I really appreciate your insights and your good advice about attitude and getting involved and really making a place your home, I thank you very much for all that.
D: You’re welcome, Jill.
J: Oh, thank you, I hope you have a great rest of your day and we haven’t kept you from too much of your busy schedule.
D: Well, there’s a birthday party going on so I’m late for that.
J: Go on and have some cake and thank you again.
D: You’re welcome.
J: All right, bye-bye.
D: Bye Jill.