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Inheriting Independence: Springmoor Mothers Share Wisdom Behind Their—and Their Mothers’—Choice to Move to the Community

A sense of independence and adaptability: It’s a trait Dora Beal believes she inherited from her mother, and one she believes her daughters have inherited from her. It’s also the trait that led Dora’s mother to decide to move into Springmoor Life Care Retirement Community in the 1980s while she was still active, and what led Dora to move into Springmoor just one year ago.

“The wonderful thing about mother is that she was always adaptable. She saved me a lot of grief and worry, and made the decision herself to move here,” Dora said.

Her mother, Annie Cooper, was a longtime clerk for the North Carolina General Assembly, and was highly regarded in the North Carolina political scene. Miss Annie, as she was called, was one of the first residents of the South Village at Springmoor, and was very active in the community, even after she started using a scooter (that she nicknamed her “pony”) to get around; she actually got a warning for driving the scooter too fast down the halls.

Dora said that she wanted to move to Springmoor because she knew that her mother enjoyed her time here; she also appreciated all the care that was given to her mother when she was admitted to the Stewart Health Care Center. Dora, who lost her husband in 1999, had a big house in Raleigh to consider before making the move to Springmoor; she also has four children, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

“My children had busy lives and were always available for me, but I felt like it was time for me to make the decision myself,” Dora said.

In the year since she’s lived at Springmoor (also in South Village), Dora has made many new friends, and enjoys the various activities available to her. Springmoor resident Marlene Lambeth, whose mother had also lived at the community, feels the same way about the activities available, and the way her neighbors at Springmoor make her feel.

“When my mother moved to Springmoor, it was so nice for her because immediately people surrounded her: they invited her to play bridge, they invited her to have a drink,” Marlene said.

For Marlene, who moved to the community from her Raleigh home just miles away, it was important to live somewhere that could not only take care of her, but take care of her husband, too. The couple moved to the community because they were tired of maintaining two homes; they’ve kept a lake house, and like that they can leave Springmoor whenever they feel like it, and come back to a secure, and clean home.

“I thought, if something should happen to me, who would take care of my husband? At Springmoor, he will have a social life, he will have medical services, neighbors. He will be taken care of,” Marlene said, adding that everyone watches out for each other at the community. “If you don’t show up for dinner, they are going to call and find out why. It’s comforting.”

Another point of comfort: When Marlene moved into Springmoor, she picked up the resident directory and discovered that she knew at least 50 people here, one of whom was her organ teacher who encouraged Marlene’s mother to move to Springmoor years before.

Dora said, “I feel so much more comfortable here than I was at home. Some people wait too long to come; they wait until their health or mental abilities get to the point where they need a lot of help. I still drive, and am still very active.”

Dora and Marlene were both very excited about the opening of the Pathways Wellness Center. Dora is taking balance classes, and also meets friends for drinks at the bar. She is also eyeing several other classes, and hopes to get to a point where she is exercising at least five days a week.

“I’m planning to get into the pool, but I’ve got to make sure I can get into a bathing suit first,” she joked.

Dora will spend Mother’s Day with her family, however they feel like celebrating, she said. She will also spend the morning at her church, serving up lunch and soup for women helped by local charity, The Healing Place. Marlene plans to spend Mother’s Day with her husband’s 92-year-old mother.

Dora added that living at Springmoor is like a gift for her children: “I don’t want them to say, ‘What are we going to do with mom? She’s crazy and we have to steal the keys from her …” she said with a laugh. “My mother was a very strong and a very independent woman, and I like to think that I am the same.”