Hilda’s oldest sister Toby had moved to a retirement community in Philadelphia. She would go down there often to visit. The age difference was 7 years, so growing up, they hadn’t been that close. By this time, both of their husbands had died and they now had the time to get to know each other again. Not in a million years would mom think that she would enjoy this type of living, but the more she went down there, the more she realized that she could really see herself moving. She was a very social person, so the new friends came easily. After a couple of years of visits, at age 84, she decided to leave New York and start a new life at Cathedral Village. (And no, there was no religious conversion. This was a nondenominational community.) She had lived in her 7 room Upper East Side apartment since 1959 and was moving into a studio. There was a lot of letting go, which she did happily. Like always, she was looking ahead. When we finished moving her in, she looked at me with a smile and said “I’ll never have to cook or clean again”.
She did miss New York, but enjoyed her world there and quickly got involved by giving art lectures, doing sketches for the newsletter and running the on site gift store and doing the buying. She met with sales people and went to gift shows. The store made more money than it had in years. She really had a knack for finding the right items. It was her new baby. She had a hell of a good time with it.
It was at Cathedral Village that she pulled out her fashion illustrations again. She had a show of them there which was a big hit. In addition to everyone admiring her talent, it brought back memories for them as well.
Mom lived in Philadelphia for 7 years. She passed away in 2004. Her memorial service was packed. She really did it all. She had a long marriage, a child who she adored, a successful career and loads of friends. It was a life well lived.