Declarations of Independence

Reed BrowningBy Resident Reed Browning —

It’s my good fortune to be a reporter for Tower Lines, the resident newsletter here at Kendal at Granville. One of my assignments is to talk with newcomers and then to write short pieces that will help to introduce them to the community. One question I invariably ask is why they chose to move to Kendal. As you might expect with a group from such diverse backgrounds, the reasons vary. But I recently realized what I should have seen long ago (in part because it is an aspect of my own story): the newcomers are choosing Kendal because they see it as a community which will allow them to realize a life of independence.

Newcomers arrive with a range of ambitions. Some plan to stay active in their professional careers, perhaps tapering off in their business commitments but invariably wanting to be the ones who are calling the shots on that retirement timetable. The majority, having already retired, want to use the time they now have to pursue goals—hobbies, perhaps, or travel, or games, or volunteer work, or enhanced physical fitness, or expanding cultural horizons, or entertaining, or returning to the classroom. Or perhaps they want more time for quieter activities like reading or writing or simple meditation. And, of course, they all want time to develop new friendships at Kendal. They want, in short, the independence that will allow them to do those things that are important to them.

The newcomers have told me in various ways that they have chosen Kendal because they understand that joining the Kendal community maximizes this independence. It relieves them of the burdens of having to see to repairs in the home; of fretting about mowing the lawn, or shoveling the snow, or raking the leaves; of worrying about preparing meals (except when they want to) and of cleaning their residence. The newcomers understand that if they should need assistance in getting out to shop in bad weather, Kendal offers it. Or if they want to see a medical professional in-house, access is available. Newcomers have chosen to simplify their lives, and in doing so, to stake a claim to wider independence.

And it should not be forgotten—for it’s clearly important to the newcomers—that a central aspect of independence is peace of mind. These new residents are choosing Kendal and the assurances it offers because, insofar as it is humanly possible, they want to exercise command over the shape of their futures.

In reflecting on the various explanations for their decisions that newcomers revealed to me, I came to understand that what they wanted, above all else, was to find or create a supporting structure for their lives that would enable them to chart the direction of these lives. They came to see that living in the Kendal community—with its valuable amenities, its lovely campus, its friendly and attentive staff, and above all its commitment to residential freedom—would allow them to realize that goal. They saw that the greatest gift that life at Kendal affords its residents is space and encouragement for their independence. And that’s why each decision to join the Kendal community may be seen as a declaration of independence.

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