The Elusive Culprit VIII

📅 September 10, 2020

Transitioning Nana into assisted living at the Benton House was a step in the right direction.   

The staff of the Benton House is peerless. From director to office manager to separate staff in the Beacon Community (memory care), I am happy with all of them.

The building is beautiful with a “Key West” feel, easy access into the parking lot, a winding drive (for drop-off convenience at the front door), encircling a stone fountain, and immaculate seasonal landscaping. Depending on the weather, ambulatory residents can be found sitting in white rocking chairs on either side of the front door and will always give a warm welcome.

Entering a lobby, always seasonally decorated, visitors will find a welcome desk, and can then turn right or left down halls to the assisted living apartments. Some apartments are “suites,” that is, one open room, or subdivided with a half-wall to provide a “living” area on one side, and “bedroom” on the other. Some apartments have one or two bedrooms. Married couples often choose these.  

This was one aspect of the Benton House that surprised me. Many of the AL residents there have chosen to move in…rather than being “encouraged” by their children to move there. Needing a little extra help, feeling burdened by the upkeep of a house and/or lawn, many residents have moved in to enjoy the amenities and social aspects of assisted living. Many still have their own cars or take advantage of the facility’s bus to enjoy outings with other residents.

From the lobby a visitor can also walk straight ahead into a large living room area to the right and dining to the left. The living room area has several comfy sofas, a fireplace, and a lovely piano. There is also a library, where knitting groups, for example, meet.

A “plus” I had not expected, but have come to enjoy is passing through this central living/dining area…and arriving in the morning, as is my habit… I pass by the AL residents having breakfast. I stop to speak to these folks (mostly ladies) and have come to know many of them by name.    

A walk through this open area straight into another hall, then a right turn, leads to the Beacon Community. Push the button and the door will unlock.

The Beacon Community is entirely self-contained and a copy of the rest of the facility: large communal dining and living area, separate courtyard (also with a fountain and carefully maintained landscaping). As with the AL areas, the BC also has a piano. And on Tuesdays a lovely lady arrives to play old tunes and a few hymns and have a sing-along for those who want to join in.

On my way to my mother’s room, I always take time to speak to her neighbors, some of whom remember me from previous visits, some to whom I introduce myself every time.

One aspect I particularly like about the Benton House is that it is all ground level and thus has a “homey” feel. Again: for my mother I requested and received a spot by a window. Outside is a sidewalk that ambulatory residents (all aided by walkers) use for strolling. A white privacy fence separates the Benton House from the neighborhood next door.

Surprisingly, this neighborhood under construction is a source of endless fascination to Nana. She loves watching the “big trucks” (even trucks that empty the construction dumpsters) and speculates endlessly about the nature of the houses being built.

I put a bird feeder (on a pole) outside her window and soon house sparrows were flocking around. I added a birdbath, though she can’t see it without standing up from her wheelchair, which she seldom does.

During these early months, we were busy clearing out her house and preparing it to sell. I enlisted the help of her friends to find homes for the furniture. As my generous mother would have wanted, her possessions were donated to people who needed them and would care for them as she would have.

For example, there was a young couple at her church, who were soon getting married. The bride, after years of problems with addiction, had recently become a believer, gotten a job, and was trying to begin a new life. She and her fiancé took the living room furniture.

The sale of the house could not have gone more smoothly once we got it prepared for sale. We had an ace realtor and property values had recently risen.  

After a few modifications, some rewiring, new carpet, paint, light fixtures, refinishing the wood floors, the house was on the market and sold by Christmas to a couple with two children. To my surprise, the fenced backyard was a huge selling point for them.

To this day, I have not told my mother we sold her house.

A final note to this segment: make sure you have the capability to act on your loved one’s behalf concerning sale of a house. On every document I signed, I wrote as I was directed…my name and “on behalf of” my mother.

Don’t put off a trip to a lawyer to get all your legal ducks in a row.

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Holly Bebernitz

Native Texan Holly Bebernitz moved to Jacksonville, Florida in 1967. After thirty years of teaching speech, English, and history on the secondary and college levels, she retired from classroom teaching to become a full-time grandmother. The change in schedule allowed the time needed to complete the novel she had begun writing in 1998. When Trevorode the Defender was published in March 2013, the author realized the story of the Magnolia Arms was not yet complete.