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In tune with life at Brooksby Village

Talented musician tickles the ivories at home and around campus

Created date

August 23rd, 2011

Don Lafferty first became aware of the musical opportunities at Brooksby Village while exploring the community over lunch with Bob Boylan, an active community member and singer. A classically trained musician, Don realized there might be a place at Brooksby for his musical skills, along with the community s many other activities. Just a couple of weeks after his move early this summer, Don happened upon Bob in the hall after dinner one Tuesday night. As they were talking, members of the Brooksby Village Irregulars, the community s popular and longtime band, happened to come by. Suddenly there was this congregation, Don says, in his manner of animated storytelling. Ted Good, the group s leader, was among them. In the course of the conversation, they discovered that Don played piano, prompting Ted s response: Oh good, you ll play with us, Don remembers.

Harmonious fit

Though he taught music theory at the New England Conservatory for 18 years, backed by undergraduate and graduate degrees in music, plus 25 years of piano lessons beginning at age 5, Don s focus was always classical music. The Irregulars popular tunes were reminiscent of Don s high school days when he played with a band. I really haven t played the standards in 50 years, Don says. He had also gone without playing for about 20 years, until starting back up with his classical tunes in the last three years. Even so, the week following his conversation with the Irregulars, Don was seated at the piano alongside them in Brooksby s Cider House Lounge for the group s Tuesday performance. It worked out, Don says. In this case we all meshed from tune one. Don says the audiences at Brooksby are generous, which keeps him returning to the stage and considering new possibilities there. Every time I m out there, I m learning, he says.

Active community

Offstage Don regularly practices at the upright piano in his one-bedroom Brooksby apartment home, which he chose for its central location and its big windows that overlook the ebb and flow of activity below. Brooksby reminded me of my days in Boston, Don says, referencing his 18 years of working in the city, how you can go into the street and find something to do, find people to talk to.

Moving forward

Don began looking to make a move after his wife died in 2007. An event like that changes everything, he says. He knew he wanted to be situated between his two children and their families in Connecticut and New Hampshire, but he hadn t heard of Brooksby until last fall. While at a meeting of his bridge group in Reading, a fellow player invited Don to a Brooksby luncheon because his wife couldn t attend that day. Don accepted the invitation, figuring it couldn t hurt. Don was impressed with what he heard from both the Brooksby employees who spoke and the man who lived at Brooksby and was seated at the same table. That was the turning point, Don says of their open conversation. That luncheon led to the meeting with Bob Boylan, and another visit during a snowstorm. I m thinking, I don t really want to shovel snow anymore, Don remembers saying, as he watched the swirling flakes outside. Don moved forward with help from Brooksby s resources, including Sales Counselor Jane McIntire and Personal Moving Consultant Ellen Meehan. Don gave McIntire a list of 25 questions, mostly what ifs, and, he says, She answered all of them. Of Meehan, Don says, Ellen really spent time with me and convinced me I could make this transition from a house of 35 years to this lifestyle, he says. Don sold his house in two days with help from a real estate professional he knew and then drew extensively from Brooksby s list of recommended resources, including movers and auctioneers. Meehan accompanied Don on a trip to Jordan s Furniture to fulfill the task of choosing furniture for his home. It turned into a real adventure because she had to sort of help me define what my taste was, he says. He adds of Brooksby, The services they provided were extremely meaningful. I think otherwise I probably wouldn t be here. Of leaving Reading, Don says, I had thought that it would be really difficult to leave the house. Ultimately, though, I think in the gradual disposition of everything you gently let go. In addition to his music-making with the Irregulars, Don plays bridge and ping-pong and is learning about the community s TV studio. He says he has a long list of additional interests he would like to pursue, from what he calls Brooksby s War and Peace booklet of activities, but he is taking his time. Since joining the Irregulars, Don has gained visibility in the community, where people approach him to talk about music, but he also has made a point to go to dinner each night and be seated with new people. I ve met incredible numbers of interesting people, he says.