"Everyone here was so kind after I lost my husband,” says Annette Hulford. “They’re all in the same boat, so they know how it feels. We get together and talk about our husbands — what they did, what they were like. It’s good to talk. I wouldn’t have that if I was living alone.”
While Annette’s husband Carl was still alive, he had health problems, and Annette cared for him in their home. But when a fourth stroke landed him in the hospital, Annette’s pastor convinced her that she needed to find a place where Carl could get care and she could get help.
Having spent 62 years making decisions in partnership with her husband, she didn’t like the idea of finding their next home on her own, but she knew her pastor and family were right. She had friends at a retirement community in Palos Park, so she toured there. “You just walk forever,” she remembers. “Everything is so far. I knew I couldn’t do that, pushing my husband in a wheelchair.”
She knew about Victorian Village, so she scheduled a visit. When she walked in, she saw the elegant centerpiece on a polished table, the plush carpet, the grand piano — and she almost walked away. She says, “I thought, ‘This is too fancy. My husband won’t like this.’ (We’re plain people.) But then I saw this apartment, and I loved it. My son and I bought it that day, and my kids moved us in here just two weeks later.”
When her husband was discharged from the hospital, he joined her. “We lived here two and a half months together before he died,” says Annette, “and toward the end he was on hospice, here, with 24-hour care.”
Today, Annette extends community to other recent widows. She gives out her phone number with an invitation to talk; if they’re not ready to talk, she teaches them to play Rummikub in the evenings. “That’s a good way to be with other people, people who know what you’re going through.”