The Friendship of Judy Colby & Dorothy DeMaagd
Judy Colby and Dorothy DeMaagd are great friends—always out walking, eating lunch together, and doing activities together. These two gals have so much in common and have such a great friendship that you might think they are lifelong, childhood friends. There are so many commonalities in their lives that they could have easily crossed paths many times throughout the years. But it wasn’t until they both moved to Beacon Hill that they actually met. And from there, a wonderful friendship began. These two lovely ladies sat down with us to talk about their friendship, what they enjoy doing at Beacon Hill, and how to stay “young at heart.”
Judy shares: “When one considers that Dorothy and I never met until Beacon Hill, it’s surprising how much we have in common. I grew up in the Upper Peninsula and Dorothy on the west side of Grand Rapids. We met by happenchance at dinner here one evening. We were chatting away—and after hearing Dorothy speak about her family, I thought her story seemed familiar. I felt like I had heard it before. That night, it dawned on me that I knew her sister! Time has revealed that we share such a similar history; it’s remarkable we hadn’t met earlier.”
A Blossoming Friendship
Dorothy describes how much they have in common: “The more time we spent together, the more we realized there’s just too many similarities about us. Both of us were born the seventh child in our families, which is pretty uncommon. We were both born in April—Judy on the fifth and I was born on the fourth. We both graduated from the same nursing school. I graduated a year before she did. Even more incredulous is the fact that Dorothy’s daughter was my son’s teacher at an LPN program. He said she was the best teacher he ever had!
Our differences? Judy never left Butterworth after she graduated, except very briefly. She spent 50 years there. I got married right after graduation and followed my husband to Lansing, where we stayed until he finished his degree. I worked in nursing, and when my third child was only six months old, my husband passed away. I continued working while I earned my Master’s degree, which led me to a career as a social worker for the State of Michigan. As nurses, Judy and I are both frequently asked health questions; and we answer these questions, when appropriate.”
Fun-filled, active days
Judy and Dorothy spend their days enjoying the active lifestyle at Beacon Hill. Growing up, Dorothy was always active. She learned to ice skate at age 4, and played tennis and softball. Judy describes one of their favorite activities: “We’re both walkers. We love to walk—walk and talk—talk about everything. We’ll walk along together and sometimes we’ll stop to talk. People see us together so much that they ask us, ‘What do you talk about?’ I tell them that we talk about everything. It seems to shock people how much we still have to talk about. Dorothy and I do so much together. We really enjoy our active lives here.” There is so much for them to do at Beacon Hill, like swimming in the pool, yard games like bocce ball and croquet, and dance class.
In addition to physical activity, they also stay culturally active by attending theater and musical performances, and lectures. Dorothy describes the details of her day: “Today, I woke up and had my hair done early so I could make it to our Bible study at ten o’clock. Then, there’s an exercise class after the study. Almost daily we go down to the gardens, which are so lovely. We may go to see a movie, which they offer here once a week. There’s also a reading club that I just can’t fit into my schedule right now.”
Speaking of the Gardens—Residents are offered to have their own garden plots at Beacon Hill. We decided to share a garden, and the accompanying labor. We prepared the soil, planted all the different plants from marigolds to tomatoes—the zucchinis were even started from seeds, and we weeded the garden plot (which was always a BIG task). Dorothy and Judy share many fond memories from their garden, including a time when they both ended up falling in the mud. “I was trying to help pick the rotten tomatoes from the neighboring garden plot (no good deed goes unpunished!) when I fell in that plot, and Judy fell in our plot. I tried using Judy’s cane to get out of the mud. Well, we could probably fill this whole story telling you about our tomato plants,” shares Judy.
In addition to gardening, these ladies pursue many other hobbies. Judy is interested in politics and found a great group here that shares the same interests. “I, like many other residents here, am very interested in politics. I took a wonderful class recently on government. We have many prominent speakers that come in and once had a Supreme Court justice come in and lecture to that class! I believe that, because we have such a close community, everyone takes an active interest in what’s happening here. One thing for certain is that you never have to be alone. If you wander down to the library to return a book—or to the post office to get your mail, it tends to take a lot longer than intended, because everybody loves to stop and talk.”
Lunch on Beacon Hill
Judy shares about the transition to Beacon Hill: “I knew I wanted to move here as soon as I learned about Beacon Hill. My husband never wanted us to leave our home. After he passed away, my daughter is the one who first said Beacon Hill was the place for me. I didn’t argue, because I knew she was right. When we were first here to visit, many residents stopped to check on us and talk to us. It was the same when I moved in. I had help from the moment I got here.” Dorothy remembers Victor, the dining room Host, insisting that she have something to eat the day she moved to Beacon Hill. “Moving is always so chaotic. I’m not sure I would have eaten lunch had it not been for his kindness.
Speaking of the food at Beacon Hill—it is exceptional a majority of the time. Meals here are a social affair. Lots of families and friends come. Dorothy comments: “There’s a wonderful appreciation here for fine cuisine. Our executive chef is very responsive to our meal suggestions. I believe in good nutrition and I like to eat a lot of vegetables. With our fruit and vegetable garden, there’s no shortage of farm-fresh organic produce, which I love. I wish they’d not be so gifted with their dessert making, though. That’s a meal highlight everyone looks forward to. Judy and I aren’t big on sugar, but the chefs make it hard to skip sometimes. Most people love the desserts, so I doubt they’re going away anytime soon.”
Everybody Knows Your Name
“And last, but certainly not least… We both appreciate the staff: I haven’t mentioned the waitstaff here. They all know my name. If I pass one of them in the hall, they’ll call out, ‘Hello, Judy.’ There’s really nothing sweeter than someone greeting you by your name. It makes you feel so welcomed.
Truthfully, everyone who works here is amazing. From the front desk staff to the nurses and chaplain, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone you didn’t like. Beacon Hill really is a tight-knit community. People go out of their way for you to make your life easier. Many people here have physical restrictions due to advanced age, so that means the world to them. It’s true what they say—as we get older, our world gets smaller. Having a community like Beacon Hill and a friend like I have in Dorothy has made my world filled to the brim with the best life has to offer.”