Resident Spotlight August 2021 – Verna “Sue” Perry
I meet up with Verna, or as she likes to be called “Sue,” in the community room at Foothills Green. She’s got a plastic water bottle filled with homemade iced tea and the sweetest demeanor.
“Where are you from?” I asked as we both sit down. I can see she’s a little nervous at how this interview is supposed to go, so it’s best to start with an easy question to get us both discovering our common grounds.
“Originally I’m from Indiana, then my family spent some time in Kentucky ‘til I was about 16 and then we were back to Indiana. It was a few more moves and mishaps before I wound up here,” Sue says.
“And how long have you been here?” I asked.
“I’ve lived here at Foothills Green for 17 years.”
“Wow!” I said with a surprised expression showing on my face.
“Yeah, that’s the usual reaction I get to that,” she laughs.
Taking on New Territory On Her Own
I was getting the sense that Sue had more of a connection to her hometown and roots to share. When I asked if Colorado was her favorite place that she’d lived, she said she still loved Indiana, that it was home. So I asked if she had any family or close friends out here.
“No, all of my family is back in Indiana. That’s where a lot of my closest friends are too.”
“Wow, so it was just you when you first came out here?”
“Yes, well me and my two girls, they were about 9 and 6 at the time.” She had come out to Colorado 26 years ago.
“Do you ever get back to see your family?” I asked her.
“No, only twice since I’ve been here.” She said this with an even tone, as if it didn’t bother her, but I couldn’t help but wish she could see her friends and family more often. I’m sure she did too.
A Time for Family
We switch gears to talk more about her time spent in Colorado, as she still seemed to enjoy where she lives.
“Any big life events that happened while living here?” I asked.
“Mostly just being a parent. My girls are both older now, but I have three grandkids, and I help out a lot with them.” She did mention babysitting quite often over the course of our conversation. You can tell it has taken up a large part of her life, almost as much as a full-time job. She tells me that at one point, when her youngest daughter had her first child, Sue did quit her job to help care for her granddaughter.
It was becoming clear that Sue often found herself in a position to help and care for others. When her daughters were younger, she worked often to support them; when she had grandchildren, she devoted much of her time to help care for them; and when neither of these were a factor, she told me that many people in the neighborhood came to her for advice.
“I’m not sure why they choose me, but I find I’m the one that people come to for input or at least to vent.” Whether or not she chose it, Sue has an excellent spirit for others. She seems to care and take interest, finding herself behind the scenes often but pivotal, nonetheless. I could tell it was an odd experience for her for the spotlight to be turned on her for a moment. Talking about her own hobbies and what she likes to do in her free time was difficult, but not because she doesn’t have any. It just seems like most of her time is given to others, an admirable trait.
“I used to volunteer for the food banks we host,” Sue says, “I haven’t done that in a while with all the babysitting, but I’d like to get back to that.”
Looking Forward to New Beginnings
“Now that you’re not babysitting as much, what are some things you’d like to start doing for yourself? Any goals?”
“I’m going to be getting back to work,” Sue begins, “I’m not sure what I’d like to do. Most of my experience is in the serving industry, but I feel like this would be a good time to try something new. It’s kind of scary though, when you get older, to branch out like that.”
She pondered more about how she will devote more time to herself, “I’d love to get back to working out. I have two extra bedrooms now in my place and I always wanted to use one for a home gym and the other for my scrapbooking. I always liked scrap booking, but just haven’t done it much lately.”
We talk about the park next to Foothills Green and she mentions that she likes to walk around it for exercise. “But when the winter months come I’d like to be able to work out inside.” It seems to be a good experience for her to talk about rekindling some of her old hobbies.
We finish our conversation up with me getting a photo of Sue. It was kind of like the tell-tale sign of not being used to having the attention on herself, “I hate getting my picture taken,” she says. But she smiles and takes a gorgeous picture and we thank each other for the time together.
As I pull out from the Foothills Green parking lot Sue waves standing next to Julie, Foothills Green coordinator, who had just pulled in with the van with a load for food bank. In true Sue fashion, she turns to offer help to Julie bring in the food bank cart in my rear view mirror.