For future Brio residents, downsizing offers new lease on life
For Charlie Lester, there was no point in waiting.
"As soon as I handed in our deposit check, I started purging stuff," he said. "I thought it might bother me, but it felt great."
Charlie and his wife, Delite, will move into a one-bedroom apartment this fall at Brio of Johnston, WesleyLife's eighth Community for Healthy Living. Their large house in Ankeny is filled with possessions and memorabilia collected over decades of married life, and their new apartment is 1,060 square feet.
Delite admits to a moment of panic when she "did the math" and realized she and Charlie wouldn't be able to take a lifetime's worth of possessions to their new home. But soon, she adapted to her husband's way of thinking and began to sort belongings into "keep," "give away," and "throw away" piles.
"You get to a point where you have so much stuff that it drags you down," Delite said. "You start to lose steam for keeping track of all of it. I finally was able to wrap my head around it and realize this is a whole new chapter in life, and it's all about freedom, not about possessions."
"Ultimately, it's all just stuff," her husband echoed. "The memories, you take with you."
The desire to change their lifestyle at a point at which they'd be young enough to enjoy it motivated the Lesters to look into Brio shortly after WesleyLife announced the community would be built. Charlie is 69 and Delite is 67 -- ages at which people often don't feel "ready" for senior living. But the Lesters didn't want to wait a moment longer.
"We have some friends whose mom is in her 90s, and something happened with her health and they had to find a place for her really quickly," Charlie said. "We didn't want that to be us. We didn't want to do that to our kids."
Charlie said he and Delite decided on Brio 15 minutes into the first informational meeting they attended. They wanted a brand-new community, they loved the location, and they appreciated the idea of a lease arrangement.
"It's nice not to have your money all tied up; we're still pretty active, and who knows what we'll want to do next?" he said with a laugh. "In all seriousness, we do plan to stay at Brio -- but it was great to have the option not to do a buy-in."
Delite said in addition to having fallen in love with her new floor plan and its finishes, she most looks forward to meeting other residents.
"I'm hoping it will be fun to meet all these new friends who are starting a new chapter in life just like we are," she said. "It's a big lifestyle change, and it's nice to know all of us at Brio will be making it together."
When October rolls around, the Lesters will be ready -- and they'll be traveling light.
"I told the kids, 'You want something we have? Come get it now, or you'll see it at a yard sale,'" Charlie said with a laugh. "But what we really mean is, 'Doing all this now is a gift to you kids. You won't have to worry about your mom and dad -- or about all their stuff!'"
Brio is located just southwest of the intersection of Northwest 70th Avenue and Northwest 86th Street in Johnston; why not drive to the site and take a look today? A few floor plans, including one-bedrooms, remain available. Call Susan at (515) 253-2500 for more information.