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Best friends reunited

Belles of Bella Vista become neighbors at Tallgrass Creek

Created date

August 24th, 2010

Joan Smith and her husband moved to Bella Vista, an Arkansas neighborhood formed as a retirement community, in 1998. Shortly after settling in, Smith met fellow resident Mary Erickson, and the two became friends. [caption id="attachment_13820" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Joan Smith and Mary Erickson are neighbors again, and shih tzu sisters Goldie and Midgie are reunited at Tallgrass Creek. (photo by Jill Cline)"][/caption] A few years later, both ladies daughters were diagnosed with cancer. Smith and Erickson both began making the three-hour drive to Kansas City to visit and care for their sick daughters. Through the unfortunate circumstances, the bond between the two mothers became even stronger. Our daughters became friends, and because of their friendship, we would all go to lunch together, Erickson says. The nice thing is that the two girls knew each other, and Joan and I were able to be a support for each other. Sadly, both Erickson and Smith s daughters passed away within a few months of one another. The grieving mothers were able to lean on each other during what was one of the most difficult periods in both of their lives. Smith also lost her husband a few months after her daughter died. To regroup and relax after everything they had been through, Smith and Erickson decided to take a cruise of the Panama Canal. Thereafter, Erickson says she and Smith took at least one trip together every year. The pair has been to the canyons in Utah, along the coast of California, to San Antonio, and the Carolinas.

The start of a new life

In 2006, Smith began considering moving to a community that would be more convenient and supportive for her as she aged. She conducted a thorough search, and when she discoveredTallgrass Creek, which was still in development at the time, she knew it was the place for her. I saw the location and the plans and I just fell in love, Smith says. In late 2006, Smith put down her refundable entrance deposit to secure her home atTallgrass Creek, and in early 2007 she moved into a one-bedroom Chadwick-style apartment home that overlooks the community s courtyard and pool. She says the bedroom is large enough for her desk and her computer, and she particularly enjoys the opportunities to socialize that living atTallgrass Creekprovides. Smith is a member of the library and special event committees and the resident advisory council. By the time Smith moved toTallgrass Creek, she and Erickson were very close friends. So, Erickson frequently visited Smith at her new home and got to know a lot about the community and its residents. When Erickson s husband suddenly passed away last September, she knew exactly what she needed to do. I loved the atmosphere atTallgrass Creek, [and] I enjoyed visiting Joan, Erickson says. I tried to talk my husband into moving, but when he passed away, I knew where I wanted to go.

Together once again

Erickson put her Bella Vista house on the market, and it sold in just three days. In December, she moved toTallgrass Creek. Since one of her closest friends already lived there, she found immediate comfort. Now that they are living in the same community again, Smith and Erickson spend leisurely days relaxing byTallgrass Creek sall-season swimming pool, and they eat dinner together almost every night. What s more, the friends have reunited their dogs, Goldie and Midgie, who are sisters from the same litter of shih tzus. Smith, Erickson, and their dogs can also enjoy warm afternoons and balmy evenings on Erickson s terrace, where she keeps a garden of yellow roses and other flowers. I m really enjoying being here and becoming reacquainted with area, Erickson says.