Memories of England and Beyond...
Meet Marie Bawol, a resident of one of our award-winning UMH communities in Shelton, Connecticut. Born in England, Marie grew up in Liverpool during World War II and now shares her English heritage with all her friends and family at Crosby Commons Independent and Assisted Living Community.
Marie and her brother grew up in Liverpool during World War II. Years later, Marie still remembers the terrifying times during the war. “I remember when the Germans would attack Liverpool at night. You could hear the bombs exploding and the sounds of the window glass blowing out. After the war, there was nothing left in the area where I lived.” Marie moved to the United States at age eighteen.
Even after enduring the terrors of war, Marie still has fond memories of England. “I remember going to the ‘herb shop’ with my uncle, skipping down the lanes shopping. One of my favorite memories was the time I helped cut up coupons to send to the Queen to help make a dress for her. If I could meet anyone in the world, it would be the Queen of England. I feel as if I practically grew up with her!”
Marie loved returning to England for visits once or twice a year. (She also always dreamed of visiting Paris during the holidays and one day finally did. “It was beautiful,” she said, “but surprisingly it didn’t quite meet my expectations.”) When it was no longer practical or in her best interests to continue to travel back to England for regular visits, Marie expressed her disappointment to the staff of Crosby Commons. Knowing how important her English heritage was to her, the staff planned a special day just for Marie, through the community’s Journey of Dreams program. The community hosted a Tour of England celebration, with a traditional English meal prepared by the Crosby Commons Dining Services team, a tea party hosted by Bigelow Tea, and a musical performance by Brett Bottomley, who entertained residents on the Chapman Stick, a unique multi-string electric guitar. Lectures on English history were offered throughout the day, as well as a fun photo booth opportunity, which featured a giant double-decker London city bus that was custom-built by a staff member. Residents and staff posed behind the bus windows for pictures, which were then transformed into postcards and sent to friends and family members.
In honor of her special day, Marie was presented with an album of photographs of the royal family, a china tea pot and tea cup, biscuits and jam, and English toffee. A champagne toast ended the day, along with a look back at the royal wedding celebration. “I didn’t realize the celebration was going to be so elaborate! It made me stop and think how lucky I am to have such a loving family here; at Crosby Commons and in England,” Marie said. “The day was absolutely fantastic.”
Marie’s family includes six grandchildren, who she is quite fond of. (One, sadly, has already passed away.) She is also quite proud of her son, who graduated from Princeton University and is now a producer living and working in England.
In her spare time, Marie enjoys reading, although she regrets she is not able to read as much anymore due to poor eyesight in one eye. She enjoys dining at Crosby Commons and enjoys the English-inspired meals; flounder with mashed potatoes being one of her favorites. One of her favorite things to do at Crosby is playing Jeopardy and watching Jeopardy on television. “I love living at Crosby Commons. Everyone is so nice.”
Offering a few words of wisdom in parting, Marie shared, “Treat everybody the same,” and “always try your hardest.”
Marie was interviewed by volunteers Christina Marino and Julie Hoff. Both girls are part of Girl Scout Troop 86, of Shelton, Connecticut, and are participating in our “Resident Spotlight” project as part of their Girl Scout community project. They are currently working to earn their Silver Award. Many thanks to Christina and Julie for being part of this great project!
About Marissa Salvesen
My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!
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