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Blooming in retirement

Vibrant, maintenance-free lifestyle a perfect fit for California transplants

Created date

November 4th, 2016
Connie and Bill Amend’s spacious apartment home at Maris Grove features a large and comfortable great room, ideal for entertaining or kicking off their shoes and relaxing.

Connie and Bill Amend’s spacious apartment home at Maris Grove features a large and comfortable great room, ideal for entertaining or kicking off their shoes and relaxing.

In 1974, Bill Amend, M.D., was recruited to the University of California at San Francisco as the first medical liaison to the world’s largest kidney transplant service.

He and his wife Connie moved across the country. They settled in Burlingame, south of San Francisco, and Connie put up a plaque that read, “Bloom where you’re planted.”

Forty-one years later, the Amends moved back east to Maris Grove, Erickson Living’s retirement community in Delaware County, Pa., across the river from Wilmington, Del., where they’d grown up.

That same plaque stands outside the door of their spacious, well-appointed apartment home, and the Amends are living out its message.

From clinical career to cruises

As a clinical professor of nephrology at UCSF, “I had a wonderful career of clinical care, teaching, research, and academic administration, all four [arcs] of the vital loop of academic medicine,” says Bill.

His work included lots of intergenerational contact, so rubbing shoulders with people not his age is important to him. 

Bill finds that now through interactions with Maris Grove staff and involvement in mixed-age activities at the Amends off-campus church. 

Their campus commitments include Maris Grove’s chorus and the Players group. They routinely work out at the campus fitness center, then reward themselves with a dip in Maris Grove’s all-season swimming pool.

Bill has also joined the veterans club and serves on the Resident Advisory Council.

Connie is self-employed as a travel agent, tour organizer, and chaperone for the annual cruises she and Bill lead to exotic locations. In January, they’ll lead a three-week trip to islands in the South Pacific. 

A bloomin’ surprise

For all of her activities, Connie claims she’s actually an introvert. Or at least she was before the move to Maris Grove. 

It seems that she and Bill have now became a comedy team.

It’s not exactly what you’d expect from a retired kidney specialist, but for this year’s Follies production, Bill wrote a skit called “Antique Roadshow Goes to Maris Grove.” He played a man seeking an appraisal of his antique; Connie played the antique.

“One day as I was putting on my stage makeup, I realized that Maris Grove is dragging me out of my introvert self,” Connie says. “I like it.”

Bill likes it, too. “We live in the present,” he says. “The people here are friendly enough that they don’t carry their pasts on their shoulders like medals. We fit in pretty well.”

They’ve also found it easy to meet people who share their interests. 

The Amends, who hadn’t played bridge in nearly 50 years, didn’t want to become avid players at Maris Grove. But after meeting another couple who felt the exact
same way, occasional games received two thumbs up.

When children are scattered

That Maris Grove is a continuing care community was important to the Amends. Although they each have family members in the area, their three children are scattered. 

But because Maris Grove’s full-service medical center and its rehabilitation and continuing care neighborhood are both right on campus, should Connie or Bill need additional care, their children won’t be burdened with providing it.

Of course, having moved from California, the Amends switched their doctors. They now see Maris Grove staff physicians who practice in the medical center, and they have Erickson Advantage health care insurance.

For all the benefits of Erickson Living’s attention to wellness, Bill says the hidden gem at Maris Grove is the shopping mall across the street.

On a 95-degree summer day and then again in winter when the wind chill was 10 degrees, Bill took his cooler and walked to Acme supermarket where he bought groceries and then walked home.

“It takes less than 15 minutes,” he says, “and it compares favorably to other retirement communities that are in the middle of nowhere.” On days he doesn’t want to walk, he can ride Maris Grove’s regularly scheduled shopping shuttle.

Maris Grove makes traveling farther distances simple, too. 

When Bill and Connie left on a road trip this August, they simply locked their door, signed out at the front desk, and drove off without a care knowing Maris Grove’s 24/7 security team would have everything under control. 

First they drove to Cape Cod to spend a week with all their children, then they meandered to Montreal and Winnipeg in Canada to Aspen, Colo., before heading to Branson, Mo., and back to Pennsylvania. 

“We’ve driven across the country 29 times, but this was a leisurely trip,” Connie said before they left. 

When they returned to Maris Grove, they said what they always say after an extended trip, “It’s good to be home.”