Life at Becketwood: Boomer Views
Compiled by Iric Nathanson, Becketwood Member
Editor’s note: Recently, we sat down with a group of our new Members to talk about Becketwood and what it is like to live here. The group included Ken and Jane Johnson, Brenda Mengelkoch and Bonnie Sample. All four consider themselves part of the Boomer generation.
Here are some of their comments:
Ken: The first impression you get when you come here is the building itself—brick, rather stately looking, the warm wood interior. When you get to know the people, Becketwood gets even better. Everyone is very accepting and very curious about who you are. Where you came from, what you used to do.
Jane: The environmental emphasis at Becketwood is very impressive. I love how “green” we are. There is more composting here than any other place I know of.
Brenda: We had been here for an event, and a friend invited us to see their unit. I was very impressed. For me, Becketwood was love at first sight. But I was sure I would get in the car, and my husband, John, would have no interest. I thought Becketwood was perfect for me, but not for him. I got in the car, and didn’t say anything, but then John spoke up. “Wow! Wouldn’t this be a great place for us,” he told me. Later, we came back for a number of visits before we moved in. John said that every time he came here it had a calming effect on him. I can’t say that the move was calming. It wasn’t, but we got over that.
Bonnie: My mother was looking for a place that wasn’t just concrete and steel—a place that brought in the natural world. She moved here and I fell in love with Becketwood. The place was well managed and it was doing a good job of planning for the future. That was important to me.
You have your own private space here, but it is easy to engage with people casually. One day I went down to the mailbox and before I knew it, I was engaged in a deep conversation with one of my neighbors about the legacy of Viet Nam.” I don’t even have those conversations at work. For me, the interest that people have in the world around them is a real plus.
Jane: Lots of younger people in our age range are going to say to themselves: “I don’t want to live with all those old people.” There is that stigma in our society about aging. I don’t feel that way. I have worked around older people all my life and I feel comfortable with them. There may be a limit of how much you can market to the under 65 group because of that stigma. But it is wonderful here. There is so much you can learn from people who are older than we are. I am part of the quilting group. The women are older than I am. I love being with them.
Ken. There are many people in their 80s and their 90s who are active and involved. If you didn’t know their ages, you would be hard pressed to guess what that was. They seem to have a younger attitude. I am in my late 50s, and there are people my age who are a lot less active than many of the people who live here. I am not sure if it is this place that keeps people active. Or maybe they come here because they are so active. So many of my neighbors have so much to offer. I am learning from them all the time.
Brenda. Because there is so much ageism in our society, Becketwood may have a hard time selling itself to many of the people in our generation, but there will be a small percentage who are wise enough to appreciate what Becketwood has to offer. I think we need to relax about attracting the Boomers. Becketwood will sell itself to the people who really want to be here.
Bonnie. At first, one of the issues for me was living with a lot of older people. But all of us need to come to terms with our own aging. That is easy to do here, because there are a lot of role models for us—people who are living full, enriching lives even as the years move along. This is a wonderful place to age gracefully.
Bonnie: I moved from a duplex with a second floor and a basement. I don’t buy things but I don’t throw things away. When I made the decision to move here, I was apprehensive about how I would adjust to being in a small one-bedroom apartment.
I keep being shocked that I like it! There are a lot of benefits to being in a small space. I am more careful now about putting things away. You can’t allow them to accumulate. I don’t like stuff; I think it is burdensome, so getting rid of much of it, as agonizing as it turned out to be, was a real relief for me. I am also on the waiting list, so it is possible that I may move to a larger apartment at some point.
Brenda. We have a one bedroom here, and that is just fine for us. I think we all have too much stuff that we should get rid of, but I have a “significant other” who believes in stuff, so we have had to work that out between us. I do know that many people have a hard time getting rid of their stuff and that is sad. People are so much more important to us than all of our material possessions—the things we fill our living spaces with. Our things can come to own us, and that is not a good thing. John and I do live in a small space, and it would be nice to have a somewhat larger apartment, so we are staying on the waiting list and we may move to another unit here in the building if a larger unit becomes available.
Bonnie: More people will be moving here who will be working, like I am doing. But many of Becketwood’s committee meetings and events are held during the workweek. As we look ahead, maybe some of the meetings need to be held in the evening or on Saturdays so people who are working can attend.
Exercise and fitness is very important to people in our generation. We do have some exercise equipment here at Becketwood, but the equipment doesn’t provide much variety. Still it gets the heart rate going, which is great. If there were room, I would donate a rowing machine.
Ken. A lot of guys like to shoot hoops. Maybe we could get a basketball hoop at the end of the parking lot.
Jane. The building is wonderful but for me it is a little too formal, I wouldn’t want the decor to go sleek and modern, but I could see it go a little more relaxed; maybe a cottage style —or maybe a lodge style like you might find in Northern Minnesota.
Our generation tends to be irreverent. Irreverence can be fun and healthy. Maybe there needs to be a note of irreverence in Becketwood’s marketing.
And let’s have one movie a month that is totally fun—no messages, maybe a movie with pizza and beer. And how about some excursions to a jazz or a rock concert?
Ken: Rock and Roll is coming here. We are getting ready to rock the Wellington Room!