Choosing My Home to Retire

ChooseHome member: Maureen Ford

When Maureen “Pinkie” Ford and her husband, Jim, walked into the Williamsburg home where she now lives for the first time in 2003, “he smiled. And at that time, I hadn’t seen him smile in a long, long time.”

They’d recently lost one of their sons – a victim of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City. 

“He died of asphyxiation (on Sept. 12, 2001),” Pinkie said. “He had been within blocks of the towers going down. He went over to help because he had EMS training and died basically of a heart attack from inhaling all that stuff.”

But the Williamsburg house, after years of enduring the pain of losing a child, made Jim smile, reminding him of his favorite architect from his home state of California.

The house needed work, and the Fords weren’t quite ready to retire to Virginia from their home in the northeast. But they bought it, fixed it up, rented it out and eventually moved in.

It was, by all accounts, everything they wanted in a retirement home – nestled on a little pond; inside a quiet, yet active and friendly, neighborhood; and located near the arts and a college campus full of life and activities. 

They were married for 60 years when Jim died in 2014. And by 2015, Pinkie had buried two more of her five children (one from cancer and another as a result of a tragic accident).

But, never allowing herself to give in to a “Pinkie pity party,” she said she “was very comfortable” in her home, even though “my kids wanted me to move into a retirement community and not live alone.”

Admittedly, Pinkie was considering just that. Then, in 2015, ChooseHome launched.

“I got a flyer in the mail and it said there was going to be a lunch to learn more about this new program, where you could stay in your home as you aged,” Pinkie said, never one to give away her age, believing that at the end of the day, age is nothing more than a stage of life. “It said it was a Riverside program and, at the time, all but one of my doctors were from Riverside.”

She trusted Riverside. So she checked it out.

The idea of staying in the home that made Jim smile, a home in a Williamsburg neighborhood she loved and near good friends “who never treated me like a widow” really appealed to Pinkie.

Plus, the numbers made sense.

“I’m a numbers person,” said Pinkie, who spent a second career studying business and ethics, including co-authoring a book and educational materials with a reputable professor. Living in a retirement community would eat into the savings she and Jim had set aside fairly quickly, she said.

“I was concerned that after two years I would be broke and have spent all my money even before I had any health care issues to deal with,” Pinkie said. “ChooseHome was a God send. It was the answer.”

The best part, Pinkie said, was after she sent all of the ChooseHome informational literature to her children who lived out of state, they supported her in the decision.

While “they didn’t want me to live by myself,” Pinkie said, they saw the value, and appreciated the Personal Services Coordinators of ChooseHome who continue to look out for her.

“ChooseHome filled in all the things that I was looking for,” Pinkie said. “Plus, what’s interesting is that a lot of people around here are interested in it now, too.”

Get to know more about ChooseHome members, at ChooseHome.com/memberstories.