July 12, 2012
With six years and two brothers between them, sisters Pat McCarthy and Shirley Green admit they weren't close growing up. The gulf widened even further after Green, the younger of the two, graduated from high school and moved to Pennsylvania.
Born and raised in Eaton, Ohio, not far from Dayton, they did have one thing in common: love of family.
“Family always came first,” says McCarthy, 82. “With seven children in all, growing up in the Great Depression, we didn’t have a lot, but we were always happy.”
And it was family that brought them both to BrookHaven Retirement Community, a United Church Homes-managed community in Brookville, Ohio.
After graduating from high school, Green’s work with several missions groups and ministries prevented her from living near her sister. The two kept tabs on each other occasionally, but their lives rarely crossed paths.
That changed when McCarthy’s health began to fail. After complications from double-hip replacement and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), the elder sister could no longer live alone.
“I had been living in California when Pat got to where she needed some help,” says Green, 76. “I moved back to Ohio in the summer of 2006.”
Green had never married. McCarthy, a widow, had no children, so neither had dependents they could call on. But they had each other. The solution was to move from McCarthy’s home into a condominium at BrookHaven.
“There is a family feel here,” says McCarthy. “We had an aunt who lived here years ago, and now we have two nieces who live here. It’s like a family reunion here for us!”
That “family feel” at BrookHaven isn’t limited to McCarthy and Green. Incredibly, there are seven sets of siblings at the community. Some live in the cottages, while others are in long-term care or assisted living.
Still, they all agree that this sense of family is one more amenity that makes BrookHaven feel like home.
“It’s really quite unique,” says Carolyn Hoff, activities director for BrookHaven’s nursing, rehabilitation and memory care units. “I don’t know of any other retirement community that can make this claim. Everyone says what a nice place this is, and it really is.”
As for McCarthy and Green, they’re just glad to have a chance to renew old ties.
“We’re different as night and day,” says Green. “Pat is more outgoing and I’m quiet and more reserved, but when it comes to what’s important we’re exactly the same. We love our family.”
“I feel like we’re getting to know each other all over again,” adds McCarthy. “I could not have made it without her.”