Tribune Print Share Text

Life is what you make it

For this Maris Grove resident, it’s an adventure

Created date

August 3rd, 2015
Maris Grove resident
Maris Grove resident

Maris Grove resident Carolyn Uhlig says her life unfolds as a series of adventures. Moving to Erickson Living’s retirement community in Delaware County, Pa., after 46 years in North Wilmington, Del., is her latest.

Carolyn grew up on a South Jersey farm where she drove a tractor at age 8 and a truck at age 14. 

She’s pursued eight careers, first as a surgeon’s scrub nurse, as a bank teller despite her aversion to math, and most recently as a wish grantor and coordinator at Make-A-Wish Foundation.

New beginnings

She retired last fall but isn’t sure that’s permanent. “I’m a people person, and I’ve always loved going to work,” she says. “I’ve always thought I could learn to do anything.”

For example, because the surgeon required it, Carolyn earned her pilot’s license—an adventure in itself. During one of her flying lessons, she told her instructor she thought she could fly under the then-single-span Delaware Memorial Bridge. 

“That’s illegal,” he said. “Then I’ll go very fast,” she replied. And she did.

The Uhligs’ life at Maris Grove, which Carolyn calls a new beginning, seems tame in comparison. They began by downsizing from their large ranch house. “We’d collected a lot of stuff,” Carolyn says.

Had they moved today, they’d have received downsizing, house selling, and moving assistance from Maris Grove’s personal moving consultant. But that program didn’t exist in 2008. So Carolyn told their daughters: “Here’s what we’re taking. What do you want?” The leftovers were auctioned or donated. 

The Uhligs delight in their light-filled, terrace-level apartment whose patio and corner location suit Carolyn’s green thumb. Of course, she’s pushed the floral envelope. “I have a garden all around our home now,” she says. 

New adventures 

At dinner one evening, Carolyn told one of her neighbors about her 14-year stint organizing silent auctions and coordinating the American Cancer Society’s Daffodil Campaign. Soon after, she was chairing Maris Grove’s first silent auction to benefit its resident care fund (a fund to support residents who experience an unforeseen change in their financial situation. The Residence and Care Agreement has all the details). 

Now she’s pursuing her long-time interest in art. Carolyn recently completed a class in oils taught by professional artist Alva Holcombe, who, like other residents, generously volunteers her time and talents.

Carolyn also belongs to the Social Stitchery group, and she chats with sales luncheon guests as a Maris Grove ambassador. 

She tells guests to move while they’re still comfortable, independent, and don’t need to rely on their children or neighbors. “If you wait, you might go past the point of being well and living independently,” she says.

She wishes she and her husband Reiner had moved sooner. They agree that Maris Grove is the best place they could live. 

Seamless health care

Recently, when Reiner had a bout in the hospital, Maris Grove’s acute care coordinator monitored his care throughout and enabled his seamless transition, first to Rose Court, the community’s on-site, inpatient rehabilitation and continuing care neighborhood, and then back to independent living. 

“Had we lived in our own house,” says Carolyn, “we’d have had to rely on neighbors, and I’d have had to coordinate his post-hospital care.”

Carolyn has also been hospitalized since moving to Maris Grove; she had two hip replacements. While she was in the hospital, she felt good knowing that Reiner was socializing with friends each evening during meals at campus restaurants. 

And he was reassured knowing the acute care coordinator was monitoring Carolyn’s care.

Carolyn received her inpatient physical therapy at home from visiting therapists. Then she graduated to Maris Grove’s outpatient therapy area, also on campus. 

Until she was able to walk to meals, her husband picked up their dinners to go from a campus restaurant. 

“Everything is available to us right here,” Carolyn says. “Our girls have told us many times that moving to Maris Grove was the best gift we could have given them.”