I was very ready for it, and it felt like the right move for me and I am very glad I did it. I’ve been glad since the moment I moved in. Even with all the chaos of moving and getting rid of things and having a tag sale and all of that and selling the house, of course, even with all of that it felt right, right from the beginning and it’s felt right ever since.
Gloria Sugarman Interview, March 2014
J: Good afternoon, hello.
G: (Cough). Excuse me. Good afternoon, hello.
J: Hi, is this Mrs. Sugarman?
G: It is, yes.
J: Oh great!
G: Slightly froggy throat.
J: That’s ok. Well, I’m Jill and I’m here with Ines.
I: How are you?
G: I’m good, thank you. Very happy to be indoors, we’re having a blizzard here.
J: Oh my goodness. Yeah, we’ve been watching the weather. It’s really unbelievable what you’re going through out there.
G: It is and I’m so glad to be in here.
J: I bet.
G: I moved from a house on the water in Westport where we were hit with two different blizzards two years in a row.
G: Yeah, five feet of water in the cellar, mussed the oil burner, the hot water heater, the washer, the dryer, both times. It is such a relief not to be there.
J: Isn’t that nice? Now you can just sit back and actually think snow looks pretty for a change.
G: Absolutely. Yes, it’s beautiful from in here.
J: (Laughs). Perfect. Well, we are so happy that you called, we’re really excited, we’re trying to learn more about the process that people go through when they are starting to consider making that move, not so much about “oh well, you’ve got to move to the Watermark” but more “hey, people you really might want to look at your life and think about really what’s best”, you know? What could make life better and go from there with figuring out the community that’s right for them. We’re very appreciative to know kind of like the process that you went through. I have a few questions here that I can ask or you can just tell us a little bit about…
G: I’ll tell you briefly, my late husband, who died a year ago and I looked at the Watermark three different times. First, we were interested in the cottages and then we decided we preferred the building and we put a deposit on a beautiful large two bedroom here and then unfortunately before we could make the move or finalize it, he died unexpectedly and so I held off for a while and then I decided I still wanted to come here, that it was the right place for me and it was a question of putting the house on the market, getting rid of a lot of stuff, as you know, and you know, changing one’s life. But I was very ready for it, and it felt like the right move for me and I am very glad I did it. I’ve been glad since the moment I moved in. Even with all the chaos of moving and getting rid of things and having a tag sale and all of that and selling the house, of course, even with all of that it felt right, right from the beginning and it’s felt right ever since
J: That’s wonderful. Oh I love to hear that.
G: I’m happy to tell you. I’m one of your happiest customers.
J: (Laughs). Terrific. What do you think made you so ready? Besides those two blizzards, I mean, go ahead and tell me about blizzards too but what all came together to make you ready?
G: The realization that I was dealing with steps all the time and I’m now eighty six years old and especially when it’s snowy and icy there’s a feeling you are going to slip and fall on the steps or the walk any minute and the expenses of running a house, the expenses of the upkeep and maintenance, the lawn, the snow shoveling, which, of course, I wasn’t doing myself but we were hiring people and just the general maintenance of an old house – a hundred years old – which was more expensive all the time and I wanted to be somewhere where everything was taken care of and that’s exactly what this is. And I realize that that was what I needed and that’s what I was ready for.
J: Oh that’s fantastic.
G: Yeah, it was not a hard transition for me. You know I still see my friends because I’m not that far away. I’m still driving, though not nearly like I used to.
J: Hello again.
G: Hello again. We seem to have been cut off. I’m sorry about that.
J: Sorry about that, it could have been our modern technology here.
G: You’re right, my modern technology here. What I was saying was that with all the expenses of a house, and the maintenance of a house, and the steps, and the ice and the constant upkeep. We lived in a house that was a hundred years old and was right on the water so there was constant upkeep and the expenses were horrendous and it seemed to be getting worse all the time.
J: No kidding.
G: So, it just seemed like the right time and the right place for me and that’s why I chose to do it and it has turned out very well for me, right from the beginning.
J: That’s just terrific, and you said you still see your friends from Westport, what are you doing over there?
G: I go to Westport, I drive to Westport to see friends or to do some errands and then friends come here and have dinner with me or take me out to dinner or have lunch with me and that is lovely because I’m not that far away from where I used to live and lived for thirty five years.
J: That’s terrific.
G: Yes, it is. It’s really terrific and I am making new friends here. There are a couple of people I knew when I moved in and I’m meeting new people who are very, very nice, very warm and very welcoming and the staff is terrific.
J: Thank you so much, I think I caught everything that you said right up to where you cut off. I think I gotcha, I wonder if it’s the storm?
G: It could be, it could well be. I’m sure it’s affecting a lot of things; it may be affecting the telephone wires.
J: I bet it is. Well, if you don’t mind I’d love to ask you a couple more questions if you…
G: I’m happy to answer them.
J: Oh, great! Ok, yeah, let’s keep going because this is a great interview. I love that you have kind of blended your past life with your future life and you got the old friends and the new friends.
G: Yes, well, that is all true. I gave a party, not even a month after I moved in and I used the upstairs party rooms, the two upstairs party rooms on the tenth floor, and it was perfectly lovely. My friends loved it so that made me feel very good. That made me feel very good. And everybody agreed that it was the right place for me.
J: Oh, that’s terrific.
G: Well, I hope we don’t get cut off again, but I’d be happy to answer any questions you have.
J: Ok, well, let’s, we’ll just keep going forward and see how far we get. Let’s see, so you weren’t really reluctant to move.
G: No, I was not.
J: And it sounds like you did enjoy your home but in the end it just seemed to be too much, you know, hassle and upkeep.
G: That is true.
J: And what kind of advice would you have for people who, you know, really don’t know “should I stay another year in this big ole house or should I really try to take a chance and see what else is out there?” What general advice do you give your friends or?
G: Well, nobody has specifically asked me that but if I were asked I would say that I think you’ve got to be adventurous, I think you’ve got to explore and see what’s out there and how you could fit into something that might be more comfortable for you, might be more welcoming, and where there are people around, without the isolation of being in a house. And the staff here is perfectly wonderful, they couldn’t be more gracious and accommodating and welcoming and all that has made it, for me at least, very easy.
J: That’s great, that’s great. You make it not sound scary at all.
G: I have not found it scary at all. I have not. I have found it a very easy transition.
J: Were you surprised by anything?
G: I think a large part of it was the staff.
J: Oh really? Oh, I love to hear that.
G: Yeah, they’re excellent; they just couldn’t be nicer.
J: When you did move in, last, a couple months ago, did anything surprise you in any way? Did you think “Oh, well I didn’t expect that” or anything unusual that you didn’t see coming?
G: Nothing that, nothing negative. I mean, it’s all been very positive. It’s all been feeling very welcoming and very warm and there are just nice touches around, like there is a bowl of apples in the lobby in the morning and there’s flavored water that’s always available. It’s just, there are nice small touches that are very enjoyable and they make it feel very welcoming.
J: I’d like that too; nobody’s putting any flavored water on my counter in the morning.
G: (Laughs). Well, come move into the Watermark with us.
J: That’s right, that’s right, that’s good advice. And you’ve touched on this a little bit already but how is your life different now than it was, your day to day life before you moved?
G: Well, for one thing I’m not rushing off to the grocery store every other day. There is transportation, there is a bus that takes us to different shopping venues when we want to go on Wednesdays and Fridays and that makes it much…
J: Thank you.
G: (Laughs). Sorry about that.
J: Oh not at all.
G: I don’t know if it is your end or mine.
J: Well I wanted to ask you, I talked to Anne a little bit, I learned a little bit about some of the things that you are active in there, and I wanted to hear, she said that you’re an avid cook?
G: Yeah, I like to cook, so I cook a couple times a week for myself and then I go down to the dining room a couple times a week. And I always enjoy both. There are sometimes I just feel that I don’t want to go to the dining room. I just want to be alone and to have dinner in my bathrobe and watch television
J: (Laughs). Perfect.
G: Yeah, but going down is always fun and there are always people to be with and to talk to and it’s very pleasant and the food is wonderful. I think the dining room supervisor, Pradheep, is outstanding.
J: That’s wonderful. Food is such an important part of life really, isn’t it?
G: It is, it is an important part of life, but not having to worry about food is also important part of this transition. You know, it’s available, it is there, they have a nice café for lunch and the lovely dining room for dinner.
J: Perfect. And I heard that you started a writing club, what’s that all about?
G: Yes, there is a writer’s workshop that we have formed and there are 6 of us in the writer’s workshop and we meet once a month and meanwhile we’re working on our assignments. And it’s interesting and it’s fun and it’s challenging. I’ve been a writer all my life. I’ve been a journalist and a travel writer so; this fits right into my interests and works well for me.
J: Well, that’s perfect.
G: Yes, yes.
J: I’m sure, you know, a lot of nice people and interesting conversation.
G: Yes, absolutely.
J: And I heard that you also, are you involved with Watermark University?
G: Well, I haven’t really been yet, but I will be taking some of the courses and I have to work my way into that, I haven’t done that yet. I have attended, you know, things that are going on in the auditorium. I’ve attended an opera thing and a couple of movies and I will participate more and more in what the university offers, I’m looking forward to that.
J: Oh, that’s nice. Yeah, I’m sure it’s a great way to make new friends and you know.
G: It is.
J: And if there is not a class that you love you can start the one that you want.
G: Right, exactly, we have a new president of the resident’s association who is brilliant and she’s also an old friend of mine.
J: Oh great!
G: Yes, which makes it delightful for me. She and I keep talking about ideas for things that we can do here at Watermark which is very exciting. I like being part of a process of creating new things.
J: Well, sounds like you are in the right place and we’re lucky to get you.
J: Oh Mrs. Sugarman I’ve got one more question for you and I really appreciate how many times you have called back in.
G: Well I’m happy to call back and I’m sorry we’re having to go through this. Let’s see if we can do this one more question before we get cut off again.
J: Ok, I think we can. Now, did you mention, or did I hear, do you have kids who live in the area?
G: I, no, none of my children live in the area. They’re in Vermont, California and Alaska.
J: Oh my!
G: Yes, so I don’t get to see them nearly as much as I would like to. My son is planning to come in two weeks from California and my daughter from Alaska will come next month sometime. I do see my daughter from Vermont more than the others but not having family around makes this sort of situation even more important because I am surrounded by friends, potential friends, and that makes it a lot easier than being alone in a house.
J: How do they feel about you moving to a Watermark?
J: Thank you again.
G: Last try. You asked about my children. My children are delighted because they feel that I’m safe and I’m secure and I’m surrounded by people, and they’re not worried about my slipping on the ice when I have to go out of the house and so they are thrilled with the whole thing.
J: That’s terrific.
G: It is terrific for me; it’s very reassuring for me that they feel this way.
J: That’s wonderful, that’s wonderful and I tell you what I’m going to say I’m glad your biggest issue in this storm is your cut off phone line and not a flooded washer and dryer.
G: Oh absolutely, I think about that every few minutes, how it would be if I was still in the house. In fact, I had to be rescued, twice, by friends, because we were evacuated from the house and one time for fifteen days we had no power at the house.
J: Oh my gosh!
G: So this is really such a relief not to be there
J: Oh that’s wonderful. Well thank you so much. We really appreciate your tenacity, thanks for joining us and for sticking with us through the tricky call and enjoy the rest of that storm from the warm, cozy inside.
G: Thank you, it was a pleasure to talk to you.
J: Likewise, thank you Mrs. Sugarman.
G: You’re very welcome.