By Barry Abel
Many of us have chosen Corrales as the community in which we wish to live now that we have retired and can settle wherever we choose. That means we come here without family or the benefits of our long-time support groups. Corrales is exactly where we want to be. We build a network here of friends; we find so much to do. But later in life, we will need something more.
To many of us, Village in the Village/Corrales (ViV) helps in both areas: we form many friendships with other Corraleños in and through ViV and, in times of need, we find the assistance we require through ViV which provides volunteer friend- and neighbor-like services to members who need them.
Recent events involving friends and extended family have underscored this for me, especially the need for support and help when the time arises. Two couples were involved - in one, the husband was stricken by a profoundly serious affliction and hospitalized, very ill, sedated. His recovery will be long and will require significant speech and physical rehabilitation. In the other couple, the husband's cancer, which he had had for three years hardly showing any evidence thereof, finally reached his brain. He died about a week later.
In both cases, the wife isn't able to continue to live independently without a partner to help carry the burden. In one situation, there really wasn't any backup or helping community group where they lived. The full burden fell onto family members —a grown child who lived a four or five-hour drive away in the neighboring state and a sister, now 80, at the far end of the country. In the other situation, the couple belonged to ViV.
Despite the unanticipated death of the husband, ViV stepped in to help. We visited our friend in her own home, took her to lunch, helped her process what had happened and focus on her future. Those services from ViV gave precious time for the couple’s grown children to put affairs in order, proceed with cleaning out the house, make arrangements for their mother's future, and so on.
It just underscored the point about why we choose to be members of ViV. Another ViV member and long-time Corrales resident who, at 95, has lots of friends in the community and especially in ViV, comments there is simply no way she would still be alive and functioning without the support she gets and has received from ViV and its volunteers, much less still be living in her own house at this age.
For some, active church groups can fill that role. For some, family members who live in the same area can do it. For many of us, ViV fills that role. And the fact is, making sure one has that network of support becomes more and more important the older we get.
We believe it is essential, especially if you are single and “not so young anymore,” to make some sort of arrangement for yourself. Do it for what ViV offers in the present, or simply for ‘just in case’. For many of us, Village in the Village provides the answers. ViV offers social opportunities —weekly gatherings in person and via Zoom like Friday morning coffee or breakfast and a monthly Happy Hour, learning opportunities, active activities like bocce ball. And ViV significantly expands the number of our friends in our chosen community - Corrales.
Barry Abel is an active member and volunteer for Village in the Village. For more information about the organization go to http://www.villageinthevillage.org