I was constantly on overload and often frantically trying to get everything done.
In 1999, our best friends came with us to visit all the retirement communities in San Diego County. Neither of us had children nearby who could take care of us in our old age, so we decided that the prudent thing to do was to take care of our old age ourselves. We looked for a retirement community that had three levels of care: independent living, assisted living, and full continuing care. It was important that the hospital be in the same compound so that in case one of us was disabled, the other one would not have to drive across town to visit, as is often the case. We also wanted a place close enough to our friends, so that they wouldn’t be deterred by distance to see us. And finally, we wanted an environment conducive to walking—be it the beach or nearby restaurants and shops. White Sands of La Jolla filled the bill in all categories. Prospect Street and Pearl were right there and so was the beach.
So, on Sept. 6, 1999, the four of us put down a deposit for the townhouses that would eventually be built on the property. We learned that most retirement homes will only accept people who are healthy and ambulatory — the assisted-living and nursing facilities are reserved for those who are already residents — but White Sands accepts people at all stages of health and ability. Once we were accepted, I breathed a sigh of relief and told my husband: “Now we can become disabled, they have to keep us.”
As the years passed, my friend died, leaving her husband alone. It was good that he had a place to go to where everything would be taken care of.
We had already gone on trips with the White Sands bus — once to Palm Springs to see the desert in bloom with a mule-drawn covered wagon ride. The bus takes people to concerts, plays, opera, and lectures. We wouldn’t have to worry about parking anymore. There are non-stop activities from bridge lessons to all manner of exercise classes, from in-house concerts and lectures to discussion groups. One can be as social or as private as one desires. The food is excellent and healthy and no one seems to be overweight. I started looking forward to miraculously losing those extra pounds when I would live there. Many residents have advanced degrees and had interesting careers, so intellectual conversations are the norm at mealtimes. One can eat alone or with others, take the food to our room or have it delivered. The choices are there.
We had several friends who planned to move in at the same time we would and we looked forward to more as they will envy us our newfound freedoms from the joys of home ownership. We sent furniture and paintings to our children, emptied out closets of unwanted items, and gave away the books to various organizations. Cats are allowed and so are dogs, so Molly — our rescued puppy — was not only welcomed, but there are weekly puppy parties here.
Years later, I am well ensconced in my lovely apartment with the sound of waves below the balcony and with new friends who have become old friends as we are all part of the White Sands family.