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Pictured from left to right Charleane Corrigan with granddaughter Susan Garrett and daughter Judy Cunniffe
My mother, Charleane Corrigan, is 99 years young. She’ll be 100 on January 26 and people sometimes ask me if she’s in her seventies! On October 1, she’ll have been at Windemere for five years.
I’m an only child, so five years ago when Mom’s condition was declining in an assisted care facility in Florida, the decisions about her care fell to me. I talked with Windemere’s director of social services and admissions about what I needed to move her up here. On a Friday afternoon in 2008, my husband and I got Mom on a plane from Florida and we brought her to Windemere where Dr. John Lamb met us to admit her.
My mother was unhappy about coming up here. Initially she was on the second floor in the nursing unit, but she worked with the wonderful physical therapy staff and in just three short months, she was able to move downstairs into a private room in the independent living unit. That was a big turning point for her – she was feeling better, and living in her own space, surrounded by her personal treasures and mementos.
Windemere’s resident recreation program, under the direction of Betsy Burmeister and Mary Holmes, is truly amazing. Mom loves bingo because you win Beanie Babies – she lines them up on her bureau and when the grandchildren visit, they can pick one out. She loves going out to Farm Neck for a Reuben sandwich and to the Dairy Queen for a chocolate cone. She’s been to Menemsha for lobster rolls, to the Island Chorus concerts and to the Agricultural Fair. Mom has even joined the Windemere book club. And to top it off, she’s in a knitting group that makes blankets for the next generation of Islanders born at the Hospital – nine blankets and counting!
My mother has formed warm friendships with the Windemere staff. The nurses are so terrific – they go out of their way to ensure residents are happy. In fact, one of the nurses is a gardener and she’s always helping Mom with her flowers.
Looking back now, I don’t feel my mother would have lasted more than a year in Florida given what her quality of life would have been. Not only is the care she gets at Windemere top-notch, but she also gets to see her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren more often. She loves it there now. I had to laugh, two months ago, when I went to see her and she said, “Look, I had gold glitter put on my nails!”
I’m so very grateful that Windemere is here for my mother. It is a vital part of the Vineyard’s human support system and we mustn’t take it for granted. I hope you’ll be generous in your support for Windemere so it can continue its essential work of helping families like mine take care of their loved ones.
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