By Roz Rogoff
MaineUploaded: Sep 20, 2013
Last week I took my annual trip to Maine to visit my mother and brother and his family. My brother Martin is a Law Professor at the University of Southern Maine in Portland. His oldest son, Ben, is a lawyer in Freeport and Ben's wife, Sarah, was elected to the Maine State Assembly last year. The photo shows Martin, Ben, and my mother.
My mother lives in Piper Shores a lifecare retirement community in Scarborough. Mother wants me to move there, but I'm not sure it is right for me yet or ever. I took the tour with the Marketing Director and she calculated how much I would be able to afford.
This is a very upscale place with a high entry fee and monthly expenses based on the size of the apartment purchased. I could qualify for the standard one bedroom if I wanted to apply for it. There's a minimum three year waiting list, which seems to grow longer every year. My mother was on the list for two years before she moved there in 2007. Mother is 97. She will be 98 in January, and yes her hair is still as dark as it looks in the photo.
I have not been in Maine in the winter, but I grew up in New Rochelle, NY and remember winters. I don't miss them. The only good thing about winter was how happy I was when spring arrived.
San Ramon has two seasons, rain and heat. Maine has four seasons, ice and snow, rain and slush, bugs and humidity, and fall. That's why I always visit in the fall.
I went a month early this year. I usually go in October but I thought the weather might be better in September. I was wrong. It rained about half the time, which wasn't so bad, but one night there was a terrible thunder storm.
I was in a guest apartment at Piper Shores at 9 pm when I heard what sounded like a motorcycle revving over and over. I thought it was odd for someone to be revving a motorcycle outside a retirement community at 9 o'clock at night.
I looked out the window. Lightening was streaking across the sky accompanied by rolling thunder. I recalled thunder storms like that growing up in New York, but I don't remember ever being in one that loud or scary in California.
Weather isn't the only reason I'm reluctant to apply for Piper Shores. Mother will probably live another 10 or 20 years. Don't laugh, she could. Her mother lived to 98 and her Grandfather lived to 102 and that was in 1939. She just had a new pacemaker put in and doesn't look a day over 85.
I don't want to be living in the same place with my mother again. It was tough enough growing up under her critical eye. She is going blind now, so her eyes are not as critical, but her expectations of me still are. After 71 years she should know I'm not a sociable person.
Everyone is friendly at Piper Shores. They all smile and say "Hello," as they push their rollators through the wide and extensive halls. There are occasional traffic jams in the intersections but I've never heard anyone complain.
For several years mother was the only Jewish woman at Piper Shores. There's a Mr. Epstein, who is 100 and has a caretaker. Another Jewish woman moved in recently, but as I said, everyone there is friendly and there doesn't appear to be any prejudice among the residents.
The Jewish "High Holidays" came the week I was visiting. My mother's mother was Orthodox. My father wasn't religious. I am more philosophical about religion than observant, but mother went to Synagogue on Saturday, September 14th for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement when Jews pray for forgiveness for any sins they might have committed during the past year.
On Sunday my Nephew and his wife held a birthday party for my sister-in-law. She turned 69 on Saturday but was fasting for Yom Kippur; so Seth and Jana held the party on Sunday when she could eat.
Seth has been living in Berlin with Jana for five or six years now. They were visiting Maine with their 4-year old daughter Adina for a few months. Seth teaches History online from Germany for Southern Maine Community College. He's been doing that almost as long as I've been teaching online for University of Phoenix. Jana is working on her doctorate on Russian Studies in Berlin.
I asked Seth if he, Jana, and Adina would move back to Maine when Jana is finished with her dissertation. He said they would probably stay in Berlin or might move to Prague where Jana's family lives. They were married at a synagogue in Prague a few years ago, even though Jana and her family are atheists.
Maine is a very low density state. If residents of San Ramon don't like what they consider to be high density developments and increasing traffic, they should consider moving to Maine. The biggest city, Portland, is only 65,000 people, which is smaller in population than Pleasanton or San Ramon. It's a beautiful place in the fall, but it takes hardy souls to live there year-round. I don't think I'm up to it, at least not for another 10 years or more.