Legacy. There comes a time in our lives that we all wonder what our legacy will be. What we pass down to our children and their children can take so many forms—moral, spiritual, tangible. When I recently sat down with Plymouth Harbor resident Jack Denison and his daughter Cade Sibley, I could clearly see that they shared a smiling, optimistic attitude about life. And a good bit of humor, as well.
We talked about Jack’s life before moving into Plymouth Harbor and the life they discovered after his wife, Teasley, urged him to agree to this change of living arrangement in 1996. Teasley passed away seven years ago, but they were deeply involved in activities and committees in their new communities for 15 years before that. Jack is now enjoying his role as an experienced senior advisor for many other residents serving in the leadership positions that he carried in past years.
As Jack and his daughter were chatting about these experiences, they began recalling other adventures and it was clear they had a shared appreciation of an extraordinarily active lifestyle. Cade and her husband, Whit, moved to Sarasota full time just a couple of years ago from Colorado and were nervous that they would not find the energy that is so prevalent in the mountain environs.
Their fears were unjustified as they quickly learned what her parents, Jack and Teasley, had learned when they moved to their home in Cortez, Florida from Evanston, Illinois: the weather and lifestyle allow for as much activity and adventure as you would ever want.
After Jack’s long career, which included living in France, Japan and long sojourns in Jordan, Egypt, Romania and Costa Rica, one might guess that the Denisons would continue to seek stimulation and travel.
Jack and Teasley had loved all types of boating and reveled in the freedom of their retirement and in keeping large enough boats to indulge their wanderlust by cruising the “Great Loop.” This, I learned, meant sailing or cruising down and around the tip of Florida and up the coast of the eastern U.S. Then by way of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River, returning to the Gulf of Mexico tracing the Florida shore back to Sarasota Bay. They cruised the Loop twice, the last time when they were both in their late 70’s.
The love for boating had long been a family affair stemming from summers on Michigan’s White Lake. Racing, cruising and kayaking were activities enjoyed by Cade and her two younger brothers, John and David. By marrying into the family, Whit became an avid boater as well. Jack recalled the most memorable family vacation of their lives, which oddly excluded both Cade and her mother. When he was 70 years old, Jack, his two sons and son-in-law crewed an 81-foot sailboat from Gibraltar to Antigua.
Calling this family “active” seems an understatement. No wonder that when Jack and Teasley told their children that they were moving into Plymouth Harbor, a continuing care retirement community, they were met with some resistance. Cade recalled that it was John, the oldest son, who said what they were probably all thinking, “Mom and Dad are too young to move into an ‘old folks home’!” But, when they began visiting Plymouth Harbor, their thoughts changed.
Cade said she soon realized that there was a world of weight and worry about her parents’ future that she not only hadn’t realized she was carrying, but that she learned she no longer needed to carry at all. Her parents were going to be safe, and live happily with an active social life. Jack also has experienced and appreciates the superb health care provided by the Smith Care Center staff.
As Cade and her father travelled back through those memories, I felt honored to observe as she emphasized the attributes that she so clearly admires in Jack and which I was observing for the first time myself. He has always been keenly interested in many things and never at a loss for words. Cade pointed out to me that her father may always have an opinion, but as the result of deep study and research, his opinions were grounded in fact, and therefore, usually right.
Acknowledging that, yes, her parents had been absolutely right in choosing to live at Plymouth Harbor, she thanked her father for making that decision and serving as a role model for her own life. “Moving to Plymouth Harbor was a gift my parents gave to me. Now, although we may not be ready to move in, my husband and I know that we want to pass this legacy on to our children.”
Cade and Whit have not joined the Harbor Club for future residents yet, but she is already an active member of the community. Cade currently serves on the Board of The Plymouth Harbor Foundation and chairs its Communication sub-committee.