Good-bye, house; hello, senior-living community

The view from Pat and Lydia's apartment at Morgan Orchards.

One Vermont couple's move to Morgan Orchards started with a Dumpster

The view from Pat and Lydia's apartment at Morgan Orchards in Randolph Center.

Pat Menchini and Lydia English sold their house in Williamstown, Vermont, and moved to Morgan Orchards right after the retirement community opened in 2017. This is Pat's account of the move. Yesterday they invited me for lunch, and while we were eating spinach salad with beef tenderloin and strawberry-rhubarb pie, the front desk delivered a bouquet of Mother's Day roses from Lydia's son, Eric. Their apartment is lovely, and the view is to-die-for. Their advice: Do not put off moving to a retirement home until you have one foot in the grave.  —Sara Tucker

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By Pat Menchini

It started in June 2017, when we ordered a 15-yard Casella Dumpster. That's the big one, enough to fill six typical pickup truck beds, not the small one that you see in many driveways. For one flat rate of $624, you get seven days before they start charging $10 a day in overage rates.

On day 8 Lydia said, “I think we better work really hard and get this thing filled so that we can call Casella for the pickup.”

“Okay, but there is no way we can finish today,” I said. Lydia looked a bit panicked, so I quickly added, “We will definitely finish by the end of the week.”

“Wow. I think $5,000 is too much to spend on all this garbage.” From the shocked look on my face, she knew something was wrong. “Didn’t you say it was $1,000 a day after day 7?”

I cracked up. What on earth must she have thought of my relaxed attitude about these charges? It was nice to add a little levity to the drudgery of hauling out our filthy old stuff from the basement and garage.

On day 10, Casella came to pick up the dumpster.  The driver said, “This is the neatest dumpster I have ever seen. It had to be done by women!” PS: Casella called us a few days later to say that our weight of garbage was exactly one ton!

Because we had arranged for our movers to both pack and load our belongings, our next job was to donate everything that we did not want to take to our new apartment. We had heard from some friends about a Nigerian priest who had recently moved to White River Junction and who had no furniture.  Through these friends, we arranged to provide him with a queen-size bed, a couch, an easy chair, and a love seat.  He was grateful.

During the first weeks of July, we packed and donated to the Gifford Medical Center thrift shop 29 boxes of books, thirteen 30-gallon bags of clothing, and a couple of bags of kitchen items. In addition, I got on the SecureShred website to find out where and when they were having free shred days. We went to one in Barre with six 30-gallon bags full of paper, one in Rutland with 12 bags, one in Williston with 6 bags, and then we broke down and called SecureShred to come to our home to pick up the final 8 bags for a total of 32 bags of shredding! What is wrong with us that we had so much paper? The trip to our home cost $120, but we were running out of time! Additionally, we arranged for our piano to be moved to our three-year-old granddaughter in Ipswich, Massachusetts. The video of her thanking us and tickling the keys is priceless. Next, we tackled the areas under our bathroom sinks to throw out expired items as well as items bought for one problem or another and never used again! After all this, we still had to downsize.

We have a wonderful cleaning woman from Honduras who, unbeknownst to us, loves to collect usable items and make sure that people who need them, get them.  One day I asked her rather casually if she knew anyone who could use some furniture that we knew we could not take.  She said, “Yes, I will take anything and see that it gets a good home.” As a result, she took all of our deck furniture, our hummingbird feeders, two more easy chairs and a hassock, a coffee table, a music system, two desks, and a bookcase.  In addition, we gave all of our decorative flower boxes and baskets to our neighbor, who we knew would really appreciate them.  Finally, we were just about ready for the movers.

However, our final walk through of our home resulted in our noticing more usable items that needed donation.  A friend of ours told us about the Bethel Alliance for Solid Waste, where one can go with various items and place them on the appropriate table. Then you can watch folks happily pounce on them and throw them in their vehicles. In fact, I didn’t even make it into the large shed with stuff before it was grabbed (politely) out of my hands. Wow, that was an experience! There we left a card table and chairs, a wooden towel rack, various Christmas decorations, more kitchen items, an American flag and flag pole, a saw, and watering cans!

Our movers came to pack us on July 25 and load us on July 26.  In spite of our attention to downsizing, the truck was full! Yikes, I hope that we are able to use all that we kept. We closed on the house on July 28.  We really liked the young couple who bought our home.  Closings are pretty businesslike, but during lulls in the signing we had nice conversations.  We feel good about the buyers and think they will be responsible property owners and love their new home.

In that we were not able to move into Morgan Orchards until August 16, we were now officially homeless.  That said, a couple that we did not know, but who had heard (through the small-town grapevine) that we might have a gap between our living situation and our move, offered us a furnished apartment over their garage as a temporary living location.  We are so lucky.  Not only was the apartment lovely and comfortable but we have become good friends with these two wonderful women. We shared drinks on their porch, dinners both in their home and in our apartment, and a couple of dinners out. We got to rest and regroup and think about where we will place our furniture in our new home. 

August 16 arrived, and the move into Morgan Orchards began. I should have taken a picture of the floor-to-ceiling boxes and stacked-up furniture on our moving day. We bought a one-bedroom apartment with a living room, kitchen, and a small den. We were moving from a seven-room home. We should have downsized more!  Luckily, three friends came the following day and made a huge dent in emptying boxes. We still had to figure out where things would go, but at least we could now walk around!

It is now one week since our move. We have begun to hang pictures, although as with everything else we have too many! The rooms are set up and are comfortably appointed. We are two of seven residents in this 49-apartment building. It seems a bit lonely and odd, but we think that folks will be more likely to buy in now that they can see the finished units. One fabulous feature is the food. It is fresh, local, and beautifully presented! Interestingly, daily meals have been the hardest thing for us to adjust to. Each day we think about what to have for dinner until we remember that we just have to look at the menu and decide what to order! There are voluntary activities each day, plus we enjoy weekly cleaning and linen changes, and amenities like beautifully and comfortably furnished lounges, libraries, fitness rooms, and meeting spaces.

Finally, there is the view! We are on the third floor facing west, so we have the valley and the mountains as our constant companions.  It feels a bit like we are watching a movie.  I don’t think we will ever take that view for granted! I’m glad the move is finally behind us.  We shall enjoy the fall knowing that we are settled in, and frankly, we are never moving again!


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