Paynesville Press - May 15, 2002

Community Perspective

Making a home at 700 Stearns

By Esther Morgan

Paynesville brings to mind Lake Koronis, a varied number of churches, an excellent school system, an impressive health care system, friendly people, and courteous business personnel.

Until 1989, Paynesville was a foreign name to us, the reason being we'd never traveled to this part of the state. Home to us, all our married life, was Tracy, which is in southwest Minnesota. As Lester was a farmer, we were kept busy tilling the soil, driving John Deere tractors, and growing corn and beans. When not in the field, Lester enjoyed raising and selling feeder pigs.

A good life, except for one obstacle: I'd always lived in town. Wow! What a change that was!

But after a few years, being a farm wife was rewarding and we were blessed with three wonderful children.

All went well until tragedy struck on Dec. 21, 1986. Lester suffered a major stroke. Air ambulance was his means of transportation to Minneapolis. It was there, in Abbott Northwestern Hospital and Sister Kenney, that he spent the next two and a half months.

My home for that time was in my son's home in Eagan, making it possible to visit Lester daily. Driving in the metro area certainly was quite a challenge versus doing so in Tracy. However, the old adage "where there's a will, there's a way" is true.

Sister Kenney is an excellent facility, very strenuous but rewarding. I was allowed to attend all of the physical and occupational therapy sessions daily, so I was trained, what and how, to do all of them after our return home.

That is exactly how our days were occupied when returning to Tracy. Needless to say, many tears were shed, but never did we say, "Why me?" We just knew it was meant to be.

The first full winter, after returning home, we left the Minnesota elements and enjoyed the beautiful Arizona sunshine. Spring came and it was time to return home. This is when we knew it was inevitable to move off the farm because Lester was going to be in a wheelchair permanently.

Now decisions needed to be made: where to relocate.

In June of 1989, we visited a few days with our son and daughter-in-law, who had bought a home on Lake Koronis prior to that time. I guess it can be said that Lake Koronis was the reason for our move here.

While here, we attended the one-year anniversary at 700 Stearns Place, a beautiful congregate retirement complex. Immediately, our thoughts were: This is where we'd love to live.

But a dilemma, no vacancies. Our name went on the waiting list. As we'd chosen mid-September for moving, the option now was to continue searching for a temporary home. In the first week of September, a call came from 700 Stearns. Good news. An apartment was available. Our prayers were answered.

Now for a time of change and transition. The change was inevitable and a life transition was about to begin.

How delightful it has been being part of this facility, but somewhat of an innovation, at first because we knew no one. Coming from Tracy, where we knew everyone, this was a challenge. Very soon strangers became friends and first names were exchanged.

Our church is wheelchair accessible, making it possible for both of us to attend. What better place to become acquainted than church?

Living at 700 Stearns Place has been a true blessing. Every noon, seven days a week, all tenants gather in the dining room to enjoy a delicious, hot, well-balanced meal. It is truly an extended family.

Once each week, housekeeping comes into each apartment. We all become spoiled and enjoy every minute of it. Many other amenities are provided for the tenants. Some are Bible studies, parties with entertainment, movies, bingo, potluck suppers, card games, etc.

700 Stearns has its own van, which is used to take tenants downtown shopping, to dentist appointments, on country rides, to attend plays and concerts, to shop once a month in Willmar or St. Cloud, to go out for breakfast, and much more.

Unfortunately, after living here for seven years, Lester's health deteriorated, and he became a resident at the Koronis Manor. This was another of life's transitions.

In reality, this was a plus for us, since 700 Stearns Place, the Koronis Manor, the hospital, and the clinic are all under the same roof and wheelchair accessible. Thanks to that convenience, bringing Lester home often was possible, which he thoroughly enjoyed.

Over the years, four grandchildren and one great-grandson were added to our family. Lester was ever so happy with every visit from them. It put a twinkle in his eye and gave him a true purpose for life. Made being confined to a wheelchair bearable.

In June 2001, after being in the Manor six years, Lester suffered another major stroke, making his last week of life very difficult. After entering his eternal home, I found the strength to go on thanks to my family, and also from the many prayers given from Pastor Jeff, Pastor Dave, and our many friends.

Paynesville is truly home now and will continue to be so.

Morgan has lived at 700 Stearns Place since 1989.

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