Lavonne Bauer Story


The Best of Life

My life at Beacon Hill? The best. I’ve been here 17 years now.

I’m from Grand Rapids originally. Grew up on the southeast section of town, on Dickenson Street. I was raised by my mom, who brought up three girls by herself after my dad died unexpectedly during surgery at 29. She did a great job.

I was the oldest daughter. A bookworm and studious. A little shy and introverted, but I loved going to school. I was a good student, and ended up with a Daughters of the American Revolution sponsored scholarship at what was then Grand Rapids Junior College.

I met my husband back in high school. We were married in 1942. We bought a little house back on Elliott Street. Life was good. We had many years together and then my husband suffered a massive heart attack and died. It was a complete shock. I was suddenly all alone. My mother decided to build a house next to me and eventually when she got older we moved in together and I took care of her. She lived to 97.

I was quite independent but then, in 2000, I began losing my eyesight and was eventually diagnosed as “legally blind.” With no family left in town, friends said I should look for a place that could assist me. So, I went with one of them to look for a new apartment. Together we found a beautiful space in the assisted living residence at Beacon Hill. I’ve never left.

A True Sense of Community

It’s very pleasant here. There’s a true sense of community. Everyone tries to support one another. It’s a small enough place so we all know each other, but large enough so we don’t feel cooped up.

And, the staff is so kind. They really do a great job connecting us to things that fit us individually. I like that they are always available, but they don’t make you do activities if you don’t want to. I try to take advantage of everything, and even help with the activity planning.

Have I told you about the food yet? The food at Beacon Hill is amazing! We even get to make suggestions about what we’d like. The chefs always try to accommodate us. My favorite is the Braunschweiger sandwich. I order it a lot. Life’s little pleasures are so delightful, aren’t they?

I’ve made a lot of good friends at Beacon Hill and I never feel alone here. Mary, who has just turned 101, is one of my closest friends. She and I enjoy walking outside together when it’s nice. We’ll go down the street, stop and sit on our walkers and talk to a few people and then come back. Plus, my beautiful niece, Laurie, visits a lot. She helps me with all of my computer needs and we just have a nice time together.

Staying Active

I really do have all the comforts I need here. A beautiful living area with kitchen and a wonderful bedroom. I love to get online, too. I have an enlarger for reading and a big screen, so I can read and work on my computer—I can even play Words With Friends! I think being active is the key to keeping your mind, because if you don’t use it, you lose it.

Advice for Those On The Way

What do I tell younger folks?  Work hard, and take advantage of every good thing life brings.  And yes, there will be disappointments along the way. I wasn’t able to have children. That was a big disappointment. But, you have to take it in stride and move forward. You can’t let it stop you. I’ve always held on to Proverbs 3: 5,6. It’s my life verse…

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and He shall direct your paths.” NKJV

When you have that trust, you have everything

What’s the secret to happiness at 97? I think young. I don’t have a “think old” disposition. That’s really the key—a young attitude. Which is what makes Beacon Hill so lovely. There are so many things to do here. I always feel very safe and cared for.

I have a great life here. I am truly blessed by Beacon Hill. I’ve enjoyed every minute and look forward to each new day. And please, if you get a chance, come by and visit. The mat outside my door says, “Welcome.”


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