First in a Perspectives blog series
If you stand on the north side of Mequon Road near the Blackstone Golf Course in Germantown, Wisconsin, all you will likely see are a crane, some concrete and a big pile of dirt.
But in that same spot, Carol and Fred Weber see their future home.
Carol and Fred are the first future residents to have reserved a senior living apartment at Fairway Knoll, the newest Presbyterian Homes & Services’ (PHS) senior living community. They’re aiming to move in about a year from now. Until then, we invite you to get to know them and come alongside them to learn about their experiences, choices, and decisions as their story unfolds in this series.
To say they’re excited is an understatement. “We enjoy driving by Fairway Knoll to see how it is progressing,” said Carol. They share their enthusiasm regularly on the Fairway Knoll Facebook Page, adding a comment on nearly every construction update post.
After 55 years of marriage, Fred and Carol have found a thing or two they share in common. They are both ardent planners and their best decisions are the ones they make together. These two qualities have served them well throughout their life, especially now as they plan their future. “We’ve always worked as a team and like to do things together,” said Carol.
Fred worked in the trucking industry for most of his life, following his father and uncle in their truck repair shop. “At 12 years old, I was sweeping the garage floor,” he remembered. When his dad and uncle retired, he went into business for himself. After a few years he joined Waste Management Corporation as a fleet superintendent, and rose to be the regional director of maintenance until he retired in 1998.
Carol, a full time homemaker and mother to their 3 children remembers, “He travelled quite a bit, which left me taking care of the yard work and house.”
“She hasn’t retired yet!” said Fred recounting her many volunteer commitments past and current. He admits that he hadn’t thought much about moving from their single family ranch home where they raised their teenage children. Fred recalled that whenever he got the itch for them to travel, “She’d remind me that the grass needed cutting. She has a way of influencing me,” he winks.
“We’ve always tried to plan ahead and know what our options would be, so we’ve been investigating senior living for the past 7-8 years,” said Fred. Eighteen years ago, he and Carol moved out of the ranch home to their current seniors-only condominium in nearby Hartford, WI. “It has been a good home for us but last year, we started to recognize the affects of aging,” said Fred. “We can tell we’re slowing down and we’ve experienced a number of friends encountering serious illness and death. Carol asked me if something happened to her would I want to continue living here alone.” He realized that no, he would not.
Carol said, “We don’t want to leave these decisions for our kids. We want to decide where we are going to live,” We have seen people who have stayed too long here and have to depend on friends and neighbors. It’s one of the reasons I don’t want to stay here either if something would happen to Fred.”
They began exploring several places in the greater Milwaukee area that offer a “continuum of care” so that they could make smooth transitions if their housing and care needs change in the years ahead. They visited Dickson Hollow, the PHS community in nearby Menomonee Falls and attended the dedication ceremony. There they were introduced to Presbyterian Homes and met Dannene Hirsch, Housing Advisor for Fairway Knoll who told them about plans for a PHS community in Germantown. Impressed by what they saw at Dickson Hollow, they contacted Dannene to learn more about Fairway Knoll, which was so new at the time, all she could show them was a plan on paper.
“The Weber’s have such a solid understanding of what senior living is all about. They are being proactive so that they can enjoy the carefree lifestyle that Fairway Knoll will provide,” said Dannene. “They asked about the similarities between Fairway Knoll’s construction and that of Dickson Hollow and had many questions about the floor plans of the two bedroom units. But first and foremost, they wanted to know about the values and mission of PHS,” she said.
Fred went online to www.preshomes.org and read the annual report thoroughly to confirm that the organization was financially sound and stable. They attended the Fairway Knoll groundbreaking ceremony held in May 2017. Carol said, “When I saw and heard the spiritual aspect of Presbyterian Homes I was so moved and I knew that this is the right place for us. I was just so impressed,” she said. Lifelong Catholics, they liked that the location in Germantown was close to their home church where they are active, as well as learning that Fairway Knoll will offer spiritual care, including a Catholic Mass.
Dannene said, “Carol and Fred are seeking an opportunity to be part of something from the ground up, with an organization that has the solid Christian foundation. This is important to them.”
When reservations opened, the Webers were first to sign on. Fred remembers the day well. “Dannene asked us if we wanted to think it over and get back to her, but we said, ‘we’re ready now!’ We chose an apartment and parking place, wrote a check and she was elated!” They opted for the Pinehurst floorplan on the 3rd floor of The Terrace senior apartments. Their apartment features 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a balcony with a warm southern exposure.
Between now and moving day they have more decisions to make. “We’re waiting to see what options and upgrades are available,” said Fred, anticipating their appointment with Dannene to choose wall colors, flooring, lighting and other interior design options. “We are thinking about how we are going to fit all our stuff in,” he said.
“I’m eager to know who the other residents are going to be. Who are we going to be living with and enjoying the times together?” said Carol.
“The Webers are getting in on the process early to secure a premier spot within the community and they love the entire process,” said Dannene. “I’m enjoying their excitement!” she said.
While they count the months to moving day, Carol and Fred make their regular visits to the Fairway Knoll construction site and check in on the progress of their new home. How excited are they? You can tell how much every time they comment and post on Facebook.
Click here to learn more about Fairway Knoll and here to follow on Facebook.
Coming up in this series...
• “Envisioning home” Carol and Fred chose custom options and make decorating plans
• “Are you nuts?” vs. “It’s the right time!” Friends and family weigh in on the Weber’s decision
• “What comes and what goes?” The art of selling and downsizing