Washington Place Residents Celebrate National Assisted Living Week

Pat and Don Bailey celebrated their 63rd anniversary with a renewal of vows at Washington Place on Saturday. (Photo by John Jackson)

By Lura Jackson

 

Every year, the residents of Washington Place enjoy a week of events coordinated by Activities Director Linda Andrews in celebration of National Assisted Living Week. This year’s festivities included the renewal of vows for Pat and Don Bailey, who have been wed for 63 years, and a pleasurable ride around town courtesy of the Down East Cruisers.

As part of their busy week, residents enjoyed a formal dinner, played prize Bingo, attended the wedding ceremony of Pat and Don, and enjoyed homemade fried dough. Being chauffeured by the members of the Down East Cruisers in their vintage automobiles was the finale event.

“I look forward to this every year,” Andrews said of the week’s events, which she has been planning for two months. “It takes a lot of teamwork. We have some great coworkers that came together to pull this off.”

For Pat and Don, it was a special occasion in which they were able to share some of their best memories. Along with the wedding ceremony and ensuing celebration, the couple agreed to display mementos from their life together on a Memory Table. Among the items included were several photos of their ancestors and descendants, a photo of Don from his 35 years as the Princeton Fire Chief – during which he completed close to 1,000 runs – and Pat’s wedding nighty, which she has preserved for all this time.

“I find it interesting to listen to their history,” Andrews said, sharing that Pat was an ambulance operator for Indian Township for many years and once delivered a baby while in transport. “The things you hear from talking and spending good quality time with them is amazing.”

Asked if he was nervous during the ceremonial renewal of vows, Don said, “After 63 years? Piece of cake.” Pat, for her part, succinctly shared her thoughts on their time together. “It’s been a struggle. It’s been a joy. It’s been long.” The couple had six children together, leading to ten grandchildren, and then fifteen great-grandchildren – the eldest of which, Tyler, is now 23 years old.

Pat and Don aren’t the only ones to share in their memories with one another. Alongside the Memory Table, photographs of other residents from when they were younger are gathered together. “This is something fun that we do,” Andrews explained. “They have to guess who’s who… it gives them socialization time and a good time to talk.”

Once the Down East Cruisers arrived, Pat and Don climbed into a vintage blue convertible for a spin. Other residents took a turn in the various pristine pieces that the Cruisers brought for the occasion, including Verna Mackechnie, who celebrated her 101st birthday on January 9th. “She’s our oldest resident, but she has the most energy,” Andrews said.

Andrews has been assisted in coordinating the car rides by the Down East Cruisers for the past six years, and she is very grateful for their help. “It’s nice because they volunteer. They take their time to do it and bring the cars that they’ve spent a lot of money on.” Last year, the Cruisers took one of the residents all the way to Baileyville so he could see his former home and stomping grounds.

For the Cruisers, the occasion is as much a treat as anything else. “We have as much fun as they do,” shared Pam Oakes.