I found the ‘Fountain of Youth’

I found the ‘Fountain of Youth.’Well, it wasn’t actually a fountain, and I didn’t actually see anyone drink from it, but there has to be one located on the property at Redwood Retirement Residence. This beautiful independent living community, located right here in the heart of the valley, has approximately 90 residents, including five “young” ladies who have surpassed the century mark.

Jenny Mae Kunkel turned 102 just a couple of Sundays ago, while Grace Dizmang celebrated her 104th last December. There’s also Grace Morris (101), Suzie Martin (101) and Agnes Williams — a huge San Francisco Giants fan — who turns 101 on Aug. 2.

On a recent tour of Redwood, I encountered a group passing the day with a game of cards in the dining area. Polly Erian was one member of the group who immediately discounted my fountain of youth theory by telling me “we all drink from the kitchen sink,” and suggested “it’s the fact that we’re all caring for each other, we’re all family. That’s what keeps us all going.”

Polly went on to talk about how when she arrived at Redwood she was very ill, wasn’t independently mobile and could barely talk. She gives the other residents all the credit for “bringing me back to life and the real reason we all live so long here at Redwood.”

I’m sure there’s some truth to that, but after spending time with Sales Manager Susan McLaughlin and Regional Director Elena Cuevas, of parent company Holiday Retirement, it’s easy to see that the independence and quality lifestyle created within this wonderful resort has something to do with that as well.

Life for Redwood residents will only get better with the pending completion of a pretty extensive renovation. The property suffered quite a bit of damage during the August earthquake so Holiday Touch has taken the opportunity to completely remodel the entire residence. The Napa Chamber of Commerce is scheduled to co-host a re-grand opening ribbon-cutting and open house. Please stay tuned for more details, as we get closer to the event date.

While loitering around in the lobby on that same visit I encountered another “young” lady who approached me to ask if I was “here to give me a ride?” Just as I was asking her where it was she was needed to go, a gentlemen from a local auto repair shop showed up to escort her to pick up her recently repaired car. I couldn’t help but laugh hysterically inside while hoping it was simple required maintenance and not body work. She seemed pretty anxious and excited to get back behind the wheel so let’s go with that first thought.

The whole incident made me instantly think of a story recently shared by Sara Cakebread, who was talking about her 90-year-old mother — not a resident of Redwood—and her 99-year-old, hard-of-hearing “friend” who picks her up to take her for rides around Napa just to get her out and about.