Meet Pam and George Callen, two of Asbury Solomons’ newest Cottage residents.
The couple had just returned from a water aerobics class on campus when they spoke about their decision to move to a retirement community at an age – Pam is 69, George, 73 – that left many of their friends scratching their heads.
But Pam is a pragmatist and a planner. “I saw two friends who retired early to take care of parents who wouldn’t leave their homes, commuting back and forth and always worried, and I said, ‘I’m not doing that to anybody.’
“Right now we’re far from needing help,” she continues. “We’re both pretty fit.” George expects that moving to Asbury Solomons now will help them stay healthier, longer.
No strangers to change, the couple has lived in such under-developed countries as Haiti and Guinea through Pam’s work as a foreign service officer with USAID. “We’ve lived in places where you can’t drink the water and living conditions are very primitive,” Pam says.
But even with those experiences, the year they spent preparing for their recent move to Asbury Solomons was “a tough change for us,” she continues, noting the physical and emotional challenges of downsizing from their house in Ridge, Md., in St. Mary’s County.
“Nobody likes to think about getting older and needing help,” Pam says. “You’re going to have to give up some of your control at some point. Here, you’ve made the decision for yourself and you’re in the optimal place for when that happens. It’s hard, but you have to get over holding onto all of the things that you think you need, the things you love, and realize that your health is the most important thing you have.”
The couple still owns a small cottage on the bay that originally drew them to the area, and is happy to still be within ‘helping’ distance of their daughter and two grandchildren.
George has been busy getting settled into their new cottage, planting a small herb garden, volunteering with the local chapter of the National Association of Retired Federal Workers, and enjoying the river view from the porch where he spends a lot of time reading. He also loves the campus’s walking path. Before, the couple had to drive to get to the gym or a place where they could walk safely.
Pam took up painting in her 50s in preparation for retirement, and is very active in local art circles. She is president of the calvART Gallery, a cooperative of 30 artists, and takes and teaches classes.
They are still active with their large circle of area friends, and have invited several to dine at the community’s River View Restaurant where “people are always surprised by the quality of the food,” Pam notes.
And they have been happily surprised to meet some neighbors who were original members of Asbury Solomons and are still in good health in their early 90s.
“We hope that will be us one day,” George says.