Winter at Wesley


By Pat King, Wesley Homes Des Moines resident

Retirement living at Wesley Homes is different. In a house, you never quite get used to the rain. It rushes the gutters, pools in the garden and streaks the windows. You know that when spring comes, you have to repair the gutters, wash the windows and deal with the bent stakes in the garden.

Now that I live at Wesley Homes, rain is enjoyable — like swimming in someone else’s pool and leaving the wet towels behind. One evening during dinner, I looked out the window at a downpour while a young server inquired if I wanted tartar sauce with my salmon. I mentioned to him that the rain was quite beautiful. He hurried away. He rides a bike to work.

As rain beats a tattoo on the sidewalk and roof, it makes a mess out of the grass. Nowadays, the sodden landscape is not my concern. The rattling swish of the water on the chain-link downspouts creates a melody, and everyone knows that the rain-streaked windows, the hallmark of winter, are the responsibility of the Environmental Services department.

At Wesley Homes, I hardly notice what my friends, the ones who don’t live here, call early dark. Nighttime becomes apparent sometime during the evening meal. Then the many chandeliers flicker into being and are mirrored in the long dining room windows. Their reflected lights become shining winter birds roosting in the garden trees.

It’s hard to believe I dreaded winter my first year at Wesley Homes. I didn’t know about long chats at breakfast. I’d heard about the evening programs but didn’t know they would turn out to be one of Wesley Homes’ best-kept secrets. During my three years here, I’ve heard music from ragtime to symphonic. I’ve been entertained by hilarious comics, brilliant lecturers, follies and professional dancers. There have been many nights of laughter, learning, tears and standing ovations.

Meanwhile, I take a dance class, attend book club, learn to film a program and join a pencil drawing class (where I found out some sad truths about my abilities). I cheer for the chair volleyball team (we won!). On Sunday evening, I attend vespers where the singing is traditional and the preaching is some of the best. The holidays come and are filled with delicious trappings.

Winter at Wesley Homes is not at all like winter anywhere else. It’s a great place for people who love life.™