Today we share a story from our Better Together series about a resident who calls The Mayfield “a place of healing” and started a community grilling tradition to give back.
More than a year ago, Brett Hughes faced an unexpected, unexplained medical condition that forced his early retirement — “not where I wanted to be,” he recalled.
Living in isolation was out of the question. So, Brett moved from California to The Mayfield, an independent living community in Little Canada, Minn.
Now also closer to family, Brett experienced a warm welcome from this bustling, intimate community of neighbors who support each other. “This is my home,” he says, “and it’s been a godsend.”
On what has become a daily journey of healing, Brett reflects, “All I can say is I’m in a better place today than I was yesterday. And I’m in a better place this week than I was last week and year.”
Daily conversations with neighbors help Brett keep pace on his healing journey. “What’s nice, it’s easy to get motivated here,” he notes. “People are so friendly here. You run into people, you stop and talk for a while. [The environment] is conducive to having dialogue back and forth. Without that, you kind of withdraw.”
In a spirit of gratitude, Brett enjoys giving back. One night a week, he lights the outdoor community grills and neighbors bring their favorite meats and vegetables to share!
“These are the times in our lives when we should be enjoying things like this,” he comments. “I’ll cook salmon, pork, chicken, steak, kabobs.” Everything gets a splash of oil and a little salt and pepper: Vidalia onions, squash, potatoes, peppers, corn on the cob. Even garlic bread tastes great, hot off the grill. “Anything you can put on the grill,” he says, “bring it down!”
Brett’s good friend, resident Cheryl, boasts a unique taste for barbeque. Her great-grandfather is one of America’s first barbeque pitmasters! (We shared her story last year.) With a knowing smile, she commends Brett’s grilling skills, saying, “He’s got the touch.”
In fact, Brett’s generosity has “made a tremendous difference” in Cheryl’s life, she says, explaining, “I’ve cooked all my life. I’m tired of cooking. To eat meat with a different texture other than baking or frying … it’s been a godsend.”
Other neighbors reserve their gratitude by baking in secret, then surprising Brett’s sweet tooth with peach cobbler from scratch, strawberry shortcake and homemade cookies throughout the week.
The love he experiences from his neighbors is real. “I look back at everything and I say it’s worth the price I paid,” Brett says. “It’s a richer life, more rewarding and fulfilling.”
Find out how you or an older adult in your life can pursue purpose and make a mark at a PHS community in Minnesota, Iowa or Wisconsin. Visit our Find a Community page.
You might also be interested in:
Resident Spotlight: Cheryl’s roots in Black American History
Independent Living options with Presbyterian Homes & Services
Explore The Mayfield