Donna Bekkering had worked at Royal Park Place for over 20 years before deciding to move to a senior living community. She and her son Gary had visited several times to say hi to friends who lived there. So after Gary’s dad passed away, and Donna was living alone in a home that had become too difficult for her to care for on her own, the logical place to move was Royal Park Place.
“With her working here, she already had so many friends,” Gary says. “She always enjoyed being here. She made the decision to move here, and all of our family supported her.”
He and his brothers feel so much peace, knowing so many staff members and residents love and care for Donna. “She came to live with people that she eventually would call family,” he says. “With all of us kids living quite a ways away, I love knowing she’s not alone.”
On Donna’s 80th birthday in the midst of the pandemic, when Gary and his brothers couldn’t visit, the community manager Jeff Zylstra said he would make the day special. “Jeff had this great big 80th birthday party for her here,” Gary says. “Balloons that she still has up in her room, even now. That was just one example of something that was a nice touch when we could not come. They made sure she was taken care of.”
Gary treasures his visits to Royal Park Place to see his mom, but he also loves seeing all the residents and staff who have become his friends over the years. “At this community, as my mom’s son, I’m part of this big family,” Gary says. “I know so many of the residents here. In fact, I just got done having lunch with a bunch of the people here! We get out our pictures of our kids and grandkids and talk about them. They care about me here. I’m totally accepted and loved.”
Gary also feels good knowing there’s Assisted Living on campus at Royal Atrium Inn, should Donna ever need it. “If that time comes, we’d be able to just go to the other wing, and the comfort would be there,” he says. “The move would not be traumatic. She’s familiar with the whole area and her friends are still here.”
Gary looks forward to any time he gets to spend with his Royal Park family. “We sit around the table. We walk. We laugh. We pick on each other,” he says. “That’s what family does.”