When Al Bosma walks into the Victorian Village gym, as he does every Monday and Wednesday from 9:00-9:45 a.m., he’s welcomed warmly. Truly, wherever Al goes around the Homer Glen community, residents and staff alike are delighted to see him. His smile and kind words light up whatever space he’s in, and it’s hard to imagine there was ever a time when this social butterfly was solitary.
But it wasn’t too long ago that Al spent a good deal of time alone. Twice widowed, Al lived by himself, cooked his own meals, and ate alone for three years. “I didn’t really enjoy that,” he says. “And finally, I decided to come here.”
Since moving in, Al’s been busy. He serves on the Victorian Village Garden Club, and in the spring he assists in tending to the flowers on the new patio and vegetables grown onsite. Proudly, he shows some of the cherry tomatoes he’s picked, the last of the season.
Victorian Village has also brought new interests to his life. “I also enjoy bowling, playing bean bags, going to chapel,” Al says. “My life has changed so much. Exercise is a big part of my life now.” Working out is a habit he picked up to keep his body fit. With the help of the Victorian Village personal trainer, he’s healthy and strong. “When I lived at home, I did some exercises, but not this much,” he says. “Now I take turns on all the machines.”
It was a surprise to all when his workout buddies turned out to be two women who went to school with him decades ago at Chicago Christian School. “I fellowship while I work out,” he says about being reunited with his old schoolmates. “We talk about the old times, but we’ve all lived big lives since school ended.”
For 92-year-old Al, that big life included five children, and then grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren. Shortly after moving to Victorian Village, his son passed away, and the community embraced him and comforted him during his time of grief.
“The people are tremendous here,” he says. “Everyone really cares. I’m so glad I’m not alone.”
His family visits often, and his two-bedroom apartment is spacious enough to let him host visitors whenever he wants. His kitchen counter is filled with birthday cards from the many people who love him. He shows some of the gifts he’s received, but also brings out his Bible, the cover worn and the pages marked. “I read the Bible very day,” he says. He points to the sign above his mailbox, an important reminder. “God is our refuge and strength,” he reads.
Not surprisingly, Al serves as an ambassador for Victorian Village. He loves meeting prospective and new residents and telling them all he’s gained by moving to the retirement community. Each person who moves in is a new friend, and Al wants to make sure they get the most out of their new home.
“I’m busy all day long here,” he says. “This is a place where you can make friends, stay active, and really enjoy your life. You don’t have to be alone, and you’ll be happy. This place has been so good for me.”