One of the greatest honors of being part of The Heathers Senior Homes is getting to know our wonderful Residents. Every Resident at The Heathers has their own unique story to tell and as part of our ENLIGHT Program our goal is to share these recollections so that fellow Residents and their families can enjoy and benefit from them. So as part of a new series, we have asked Residents who would like to participate to join us in interviews for our blog. To kick this series off, Community Relations Manager Kate and I sat down for a chat with one of our very first Residents, Mike. Below are some of the highlights of our conversation:
Resident: Mike; the Master Painter and Gardener Extraordinaire
Q: How long have you been at The Heathers?
Mike began his journey at The Heathers at the Ringwood location. However, once building two Edinburgh opened in Lake in The Hills, Mike took the opportunity to test out the new locale. He was one of the first two Residents to move into Edinburgh.
Q: Where did you grow up as a child?
Mike grew up in a primarily Ukrainian neighborhood in Chicago. He fondly remembers The Loop being a much more peaceful drive at the time. He also spent many a warm summer day at his Grandmother’s farm in Schaumburg. There, he recalls playing with the dogs, cats and cows. When asked if he ever gave the horses any of his affection, Mike laughed and joked “I can take or leave the horses.”
Q: Who was your childhood hero growing up?
The person Mike admired as a child was his older cousin Stan. Stan had the daring job of being a tree trimmer which Mike remembers he always thought was cool. Stan took Mike to Yellowstone when he was ten years old. Mike still remembers the beautiful geysers and pools. Mike and I both bonded over our own memories of the Dragon’s Mouth Spring. The mystical Dragon’s Mouth Spring is a hot Spring where steam gurgles from the gaping maw of a cave and if you listen closely, you could swear you hear the snores of some sleeping Beast.
Q: On the subject of vacations, is that your favorite place to visit?
While Yellowstone is a beautiful memory, Mike revealed that his favorite place to visit during his summer vacations was good old Las Vegas. He enjoyed the shows and performers, but really enjoyed the slots and games. Black Jack was his personal favorite.
Q: What was it like being a teacher?
For over three decades, Mike inspired many bright young minds during his time as a High School Biology teacher. He liked getting to do the experiments with the kids as well as an occasional dissection. While Mike loved his work, he’s glad to be retired now as he recalls his students becoming a tad “contrarian” and “unruly” when they found out one of their favorite teachers was leaving to enjoy his well earned retirement.
Q: How do you like to spend your days at The Heathers?
One of Mike’s favorite pastimes at The Heathers is spending time outdoors on a nice day. Outside, he tends to the raised gardens with his green thumb, just like he did for many years on his own gardens at home. He enjoys watching, quite literally, the fruits of his labors as they grow. This spring, he’s most looking forward to growing tomatoes and lettuce. Indoors, Mike enjoys reading history books with his favorite topic being the various monarchies. Mike also spends much of his time painting, he has brought his visions to life as a painter for over 40 years.
Q: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
After giving it some thought, Mike drew on his science background and decided he could use superpowers to help save the environment. Spending time in his gardens brings him joy and he wishes more people would get to experience the wonders he sees in the Midwest. His art is inspired by the environment too; some of his favorite subjects to paint are the various landscapes he’s visited in his travels.
Q: Would you be willing to tell us a little more about your paintings?
Mike’s beautiful paintings adorn his room and he was kind enough to let us take a few photos to share on our blog. He likes to paint “the masters” as can be seen in his beautiful rendition of Terrace at the Seaside. He works in both oil and acrylic paint, but feels that oil is a more “forgiving” medium. Mike also does stunning sketches in charcoal; in one interpretation a woman sits gracefully next to her sheet of music, her expression both sorrowful and contemplative at the same time. Another painting shows a young man and a dog surrounded by the wilderness, next to it is the photo that inspired the piece.
We enjoyed getting to chat with Mike and share some of his story with you. We look forward to more conversations with our other Residents.