Friday, March 11, 2005
Bringing Dad to Carlisle Village Court senior housing
All afternoon I waited by the phone on that September day in 2002,
poised and ready to throw clothes into a suitcase and speed off to the
airport if necessary. My father, Edmund Claypool, was having an angiogram
at a hospital near his home in a Chicago suburb. I paced the kitchen,
feeling a tug of regret and responsibility. I should be there with
him, I thought. A dear friend of the family in Chicago had been
kind enough to act as a daughter stand-in, taking the day off to drive
my dad to the hospital and stay in the waiting room during his procedure.
As soon as the surgeon revealed whether or not my dad would need heart
surgery, she would be giving me a call. Although I deeply appreciated
her care and concern, I could not let go of the helplessness I felt
at being so far away. My dad did not need a stand-in. He needed his
The happy ending of this particular story is that my father's heart proved to be healthy and did not require surgery after all. However, the scare served as a wake up call for us both. Although my dad had been resisting the thought of moving from Naperville, Illinois, and the treasured friends he had there, even he realized that as he approached his mid-seventies and began to experience a few health issues, he needed to be closer to me in Carlisle, and to my brother on Long Island. By late November 2002, my brother Steve and I had packed my father's belongings into a moving van and driven cross-country in a snowstorm to deliver him to my family's house on North Road.
At this point, my dad's name was already on a waiting list for Carlisle Village Court, the senior housing complex nestled in the woods behind the library on Church Street. I had been hoping since we had moved to Carlisle in 2000 that we could convince him to join us here, so I had already started the process sometime in 2001. As soon as we had my father snugly situated in our downstairs guest room, I called the Carlisle Village Court management company in Concord, New Hampshire, to update them on his situation. He was here, I told them, and ready for an apartment as soon as one was ready for him.
Although my dad appreciated being with family, it was clear he felt a little displaced during the five months he lived at our house. The pace of my husband's and my life with two teenaged daughters can be chaotic and unpredictable, to say the least. He missed his friends in Illinois and felt a little lost, longing to find a niche in his newly adopted town yet unsure how to begin. But then we got the call that an apartment at Carlisle Village Court would be ready for him in April of 2003.
We drove by the apartment and peered eagerly into the windows. We absorbed the beautiful tree-lined setting and noted with satisfaction the small patio and gazebo. We observed how fitting it was that a retired Methodist minister should live on Church Street. We were also fortunate enough to meet some residents of Carlisle Village Court in the parking lot, who showed us the Sleeper Room, a gathering place full of the potential for activities and getting acquainted with new people.
This April when my father turns 77, he will also celebrate living at Carlisle Village Court for two years. "It's so convenient to the downtown area and the library," he says. "The Sleeper Room is used a great deal. The COA [Council on Aging] has a number of programs and many opportunities to meet with other people — both residents [of Carlisle Village Court] and seniors who live in Carlisle." He adds that he has "met some very good friends" through the luncheons, breakfasts and Chess Club. He makes a point of going to the Sleeper Room when Emerson Hospital health care representatives come to take blood pressure readings and to do seasonal craft projects during visits from members of the Carlisle Garden Club. Students from the Carlisle School are occasional visitors, coming through the village with a Halloween costume parade or Valentine's Day celebration. Members of the school band and chorus have also stopped in to share their music.
On a personal note, it is wonderful — for both him and us — to have family in Carlisle. We celebrate holidays and birthdays together (often gathering with other nearby relatives) and enjoy our regular father-daughter Tuesday lunch dates. I take him to his doctor's appointments and he watches our house when we are out of town. Although taking care of each other and enjoying time together is simple family stuff that a lot of people probably take for granted, these are exactly the things one misses and appreciates after living a thousand miles away from family.
I guess this explains why it always gives me a thrill to come across my father unexpectedly at Ferns when he is buying his paper and I am picking up a gallon of milk. There is a warm feeling of belonging; something inside that leaps with joy and says, I have family here.
Facts about Carlisle Village Court, Carlisle's senior housing complex
· The Elderly Housing Association signed a $715,000 mortgage with Farmers Home Administration on April 16, 1982.
· Construction began in April 1982.
· Carlisle Village Court provides the only affordable housing in Carlisle.
· Rent subsidies (based on renter income) are provided by HUD (Housing Urban Development, a federal agency).
· There are 18 units in Carlisle Village Court.
· The current number of residents is 19.
· Other names originally considered for the complex were Crestview, Hillside Haven and South Hill.
· The average waiting period for an apartment is up to one year.
· The size of a typical apartment is 870 square feet.
· Residents must be over the age of 62, handicapped or disabled.
· Carlisle Village Court is managed by The Hodges Companies in Concord, NH (building manager Shelley Freeman, 603-224-9221).
© 2005 The Carlisle Mosquito