At 84, Beverley McCulloch is chock-full of zip and sharp wit. She has called Seton Villa her home for the past five years, and when asked what her life is like now at the centre, without hesitating, she answers with one, resounding word:
It’s no wonder. With the wide assortment of daily activities taking place at Seton Villa, she’s never at a loss for something to do. Sometimes, you might even catch her volunteering her time at the front desk.
But most frequently, Beverley can be found expertly knitting away — something she’s done since she was seven.
As fate would so fittingly have it, she’s also a member of a knitting group that’s blessed with a name as cheeky as she is:
Before coming to Seton Villa, Beverley’s life didn’t look any less busy. She fully retired at the age of 66, sold her house, and then went around the world — twice. Traveling once with a girlfriend, and once on her own, she was a self-proclaimed “champion of getting lost.”
With a large family, she still affectionately calls the people at Seton Villa her “extended family.” With a staff that she describes as “one-off; you’d never find anyone as good as what we’ve got,” a chef she favours highly over having her own kitchen, and an everyday ambiance that has always made her feel “comfortable” and “at home” from her very first visit, she declares her decision to stay at Seton Villa with aplomb:
“I ain’t going nowhere —not even if I win the lottery.”
Later, she adds, “I have never regretted moving in here. Never.”
That is, with one exception: “Except when they serve liver.”
To say that moving to Seton Villa was a big transition for 76-year-old Mary Gaynor-Briese would be an understatement. Retiring a mere two weeks before she moved to BC, she not only packed up 24 boxes’ worth of her life from the opposite end of the country, but also left behind her friends, a job she loved, and people she enjoyed working with.
Transition, she explains gracefully, is “like a little death.”
And yet for the 2.5 years she’s lived at Seton Villa, she can say:
She’s never regretted it.
It all comes back to an ordinary trip to the grocery store after she moved to BC to escape the Ontario winter. Somehow, her daughter and son-in-law came back that day with more than food. They came back with a name: Seton Villa.
You can bet that Mary had done her research on retirement homes, and yet she’d never heard of Seton Villa. But sure enough, after a quick search online, there it was —just a brief fifteen minutes away from her daughter’s home, where she had been staying temporarily.
Thus followed a series of fortunate events: She filled out an application. She took a tour. And on that tour, Admissions glanced at her application. When would she be ready to move? Mary’s answer: “The sooner, the better.” She was whisked off to view a couple of empty rooms, and by the time she hit the front entrance again, she had a move-in date: March 1st, a mere three weeks away at that moment.
Mary calls it “one of those flukey things.” But if you ask us?
It sounds a little bit like fate.
Above all, moving to Seton Villa was Mary’s choice. Perfectly happy living on her own, she has a deep appreciation for the independent lifestyle that’s valued, encouraged, and even, in her own words, “pushed,” at Seton Villa. With her trademark thoughtful clarity, she describes it simply:
“A place like this, you close your door and you can be by yourself. If you want to be around people, you open the door.”
Her secret to successfully navigating life’s big transitions is remembering what you now have. “I’ve made some wonderful friendships,” she says. “Everything’s done for me…I can do what I want.” And while Seton Villa always respects her freedom and independence, she is thankful to know that “We are being looked after, in every way.”
Ever perceptive and self-aware, she recalls a memory during her one-way flight from Ontario, sitting on the plane, coming out and thinking: “Gee, Mary, I wonder if you’ll ever take the plane the other way again.”
We think it’s safe to say the jury’s still out on that one.