Resident Spotlights

Patsy’s new lease on life




Patsy a resident of MaranathaReal stories as told by the people who live and work at Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS).

Patsy’s story

Your life isn’t over when you come here. It’s a whole new beginning.

—Patsy, resident of Maranatha in Brooklyn Center, Minn.

When I came here, I had nothing — absolutely nothing. Now I have a place I walk into that I am so proud of. From the time I hit the front steps until I get inside my apartment, I feel so safe, so comfortable. This is my house.

If my story brings one person to ask for help — transitioning to a senior living community — then I believe it’s worth it. I’ll begin from before the time I moved to Maranatha in September 2022.

I was a severe alcoholic. I remember a visit with my doctor, in which I begged him to allow me to drink.

“Patty, I can’t do that,” he said. “The alcohol is killing you. You will die.”

I answered, “Does that mean no?”

That’s how in denial I was.

Meanwhile, I was living with people who I had been led to believe were in recovery. But they were using drugs, and people were coming and going at all hours. Four dogs barked constantly — there was no sleeping. It was frightening.

I remember barricading myself in my room. Just to keep the door shut, I’d stick knives around the door jam. Fearing to leave and without help from roommates to shop for food, I became so undernourished.

My son urged me again and again to seek help. I tried, but it felt like nobody was listening.

Then one Tuesday he called and said, “Mom, I wanna tell you something. Do not say or repeat anything. You’re gonna move on Thursday. You can’t live here anymore, and that’s all there is to it.”

So just as he said, he came that Thursday, packed my stuff in garbage bags, got me and my cat in the car and away we went.

‘You’re safe here’

Kim Witthauer, housing counselor
Kim Witthauer, housing counselor

With the help of her son, a Lutheran nonprofit and an elderly waiver, Patsy was referred to Housing Counselor Kim Witthauer at Maranatha in Brooklyn Center, Minn. Presbyterian Homes communities participate in a variety of financial assistance programs such as: alternative care grant/elderly waiver, medical assistance, and long term care insurance. Learn more here or contact us.

Recently Kim, a key witness to Patsy’s transformation, recalled day one in a conversation with Patsy and PHS: “I remember meeting you in the lobby. You were sitting there … I’m just gonna be honest with you Patsy, I’m always honest with you … you couldn’t look up. You were just down, looking at that can of pop in your hands. It wasn’t you, it was someone else who was sitting there. And I thought, Oh boy, let’s go take this tour and talk a little bit.”

Patsy nods and continues her story:

If Maranatha hadn’t taken me in, I would not have lasted another six months. I would have been dead — I guarantee that 100 percent.

But I came here, and my life has been different. I haven’t wanted to drink once.

I wake up in the morning and I think, It’s unbelievable that I can feel this good.

Over time Patsy furnished her apartment with pieces donated by neighbors in the moving process.
Over time Patsy furnished her apartment with pieces donated by neighbors.

From the first day I walked in the front door, I felt so safe. I looked around and it was just beautiful. Then I walked into the apartment, and it was spotless — the cleanest apartment that I’d ever seen for somebody to move into.

I was so confused and in awe, but I knew I had to live there. It was the only way that I was gonna survive.

And then they told me they served three meals a day! The food— I could not believe the food.

When they brought me the food, I would sit there in the same way I’ve seen prisoners guard their food in the chow hall.

A woman named Pat and I shared a table. One day, she leaned over and put her hand on mine. “Don’t worry, honey,” she said, “you’re safe here.” I looked into her eyes. I sat up straight and never bent over after that. [Patsy pauses her story to wipe away tears.]

‘The laughter table’

Kim commented on the beautiful friendship that blossomed between Pat and Patsy, adding, “Now so many people want to sit at that table …. We had to get rid of the four-chaired table and bring in the big, round table. Now they’re the laughing table.”

Patsy continues:

Patsy at a Christmas dinner party at Maranatha.We laugh at mealtime. We laugh so hard that pretty soon other people join in — like the round table next to us — and we talk back and forth. We laugh. And it’s okay! It’s really, truly okay. And that’s one of the neat things you learn … you can laugh at yourself. You can have fun.

And here I know that I can talk to people, and somebody does listen.

It’s like the other day when we were doing a nature trail and treasure hunt with Michelle [the life enrichment director]. We started talking and it all poured out — our feelings and what we go through on a daily basis.

But the one good thing that has happened to everybody is here. It’s the warm feeling you get. And it’s not just how the staff treats us, it’s the people who live here and how much light we really, truly are. What we all have in common is we love it here. You know, this is our home, our community, where we all live together.

Considering a move? Patsy’s advice

So, I want people to know that wherever you’re coming from — no matter what you’ve been or done — it’s a positive thing, coming here.

And there are people who will listen to you, who can help you transition and get into a community like this. Some people may see it as an end, but Presbyterian Homes has delivered a system that works.

Housing Counselor Kim affirms ‘the most important thing’

Patsy decorated her front door with words of purpose, hope and joy.
Patsy decorated her front door with words of purpose, hope and joy.

Well, thank you for saying that, but Patsy, when you came here, you did the most important thing. You were scared, you were nervous, just like most people who move into senior living. It’s a whole new chapter and your chapter had a lot of little chapters in it, so you went through a lot.

When you got here, you seemed nervous, and you weren’t really too sure how you were going to fit in here. But you made yourself come out of your apartment, and that’s the key. You came down and you ate your meals in the dining room, and you met people. And that’s what kept you coming.

That’s how you get to know people and that’s how you get comfortable. You have to take that first step, and you did.

Like Patsy, you could also live with purpose, wellness and joy among neighbors at a PHS community near you. We have a variety of housing counselors and others who wish to help you make the best transition. Whether you’re just starting to explore or looking to move this spring, we encourage you to contact us and follow our blog for more inspiration.



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