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Esther’s Paradise

by David Suh

In early October 2019, Esther and I moved to Woodcrest Villa. We made a long journey to our forever home.

Red, yellow, and brown leaves rustled under the glorious sun. I was humming in my head, “Falling leaves drift by the window . . . “ Before long the Nature Trail by Pheasant Pointe beckoned us into the woods. And the Swarr Run, running alongside the trail, welcomed us.

Some of of Esther’s treasured plants made the journey with us from Boston to Lancaster. An eight-foot-tall fiddle leaf fig tree joined them the following year. Since then, like an art collector collecting Monet’s, Matisse’s, and Picasso’s, she has amassed more and more plants. They have taken up residence along the walls and windows, in the living room and bedrooms.

In the morning, the sun greets the prayer plant, crown of thorn, fiddle leaf fig tree, jade plant, corn plant, polka-dot begonia, geranium, pothos, orchid, ZZ plant—there are about fifty in all. During Christmas season, poinsettias join the tribe.

In the spring, Esther becomes a vegetable farmer. She grows crown daisy, cucumbers, tomatoes, sesame, Shisito peppers, Swiss chard, and Romaine lettuce; all in the 30 square foot raised bed. What a thrill it is to watch them grow! And, of course, we enjoy eating them.

From the day one, Esther has enjoyed meeting people at Woodcrest—at the Garden Café, swimming pool, exercise classes, and lady’s lunches . . .

She finds that everyone is friendly, kind, and affable. When she returns late from her walk, I no longer worry—she is either chatting with someone, has stopped by a resident’s apartment, or working on puzzle. Upon return, she excitedly recounts the interesting conversations she has had; or describes the beautiful furniture, paintings, or family photos she has seen.

She’s happy to be able to drive to many places in town without having to take a highway—Wegmans, Lidl, Asian Market, Stauffers Grocery, Stauffer Garden Center, Joanne Fabric, and more. If she’s delayed from grocery shopping, I know she has dropped in at Community Aid, her favorite store.

Some may be wondering why Esther is eager, at times, to know ages of the residents.  Korean custom requires one to know the ages of other people; the language is full of honorific words, used if the people are older than you. Here in Woodcrest Villa, she often hears others telling her, “You are a spring chicken.

She has inherited her mom’s tradition of sharing with neighbors. Esther grew up with her six siblings, and her family didn’t have much. Nevertheless, her mom always shared special foods she made, such as rice-cake or fruit, with her neighbors. I have cut many a large pumpkin for Esther’s fresh loaves of pumpkin bread that she gives out to neighbors and staff.

At Woodcrest Villa, we have been blessed with exceptionally caring staff. During the Covid-19 lockdown, they guided us with diligence and care. Thanks to them we got our vaccines, six times in all, without any delays.

We are always given ample opportunities to participate in various activities—Koffee Klatch, ice cream social, movies, concerts, excursions to antique store, antique automobile show, dinner theater, Hershey, Gettysburg, and many more.

It’s no wonder Woodcrest Villa is in the top percentile of the national retirement home satisfaction survey, year after year.

In February Esther became 80 years old. Not too long ago, octogenarians were called the “old-old.” Now we are the “young-old.” People are living longer.

“Good relationships keep us happier, healthier, and help us to live longer.” This is the conclusion of a Harvard University research study on longevity after they had followed a group of people and their offspring for 80 years. The study emphasized that quality relationships matter more than the social status or wealth.

Here at Woodcrest Villa, regular exercise in swimming and jump rope increases Esther’s physical health, and her friendship with other residents enhances her emotional health.

Esther wanted to use her birthday as an occasion to express her gratitude to the staff and residents. On February 18, she threw a birthday celebration and had a great time with many well wishers. Her only regret was that she couldn’t invite all the staff and residents; Gamber Auditorium can seat only about 150 people around the banquet tables.

Esther has been thanking God ever since we landed in Woodcrest Villa. She has been repeatedly saying, “This is the best time of my life, in the best place, with the best people.”

Esther has found her paradise.

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