Dr. Charles Holland looks forward to the day he’ll pass through the pearly gates of heaven, but until then, he says there’s no other place he’d rather be than at The Ridglea, an assisted living and memory care facility in southwest Fort Worth.
He recalls the initial tour he and his late wife Jeanette took in 2021 when they were looking for a new home.
“Life in a senior living facility depends to a great degree on attitudes from administration, and I’ve found in Ridglea’s administration kindness and gentleness and tenderness and interest in the residents that was genuine,” he said. “And then I began to talk to residents themselves and made a profound discovery – they were happy. And the more I talked to them, the more I realized there was a strange contentment here that I had not seen in other places we had been.”
When the Hollands moved to The Ridglea, Jeanette, a former public school teacher, had progressed to the point of requiring memory care. Charles moved in down the hall into the assisted living wing. They took walks together, ate dinner together, spent the evenings together, despite living in different areas of the building.
“We were together all day as we were all our lives,” he said. “Jeanette and I were married 68 years, 10 months and 6 days. It was hard for us to remember when we weren’t together.”
Holland is a retired minister but he still gets plenty of practice. He leads Bible study on Fridays and Sunday worship at the facility. The worship service has been growing and averages 20-40 people each week.
“Primarily, I lend an ear,” he said. “I’ve found there are a number of people here who mainly need to express concerns, attitudes toward life in general, and I respond to them, help them reflect on their situation, and it comes to resolution sometimes – not all the time,” he said.
Holland always has time to talk with his peers, but he also has some words of encouragement for those outside the walls of The Ridglea.
“As you can, develop a personal mission statement, as you will, in which you make the determination: If this is God’s will for my life, then I’m going to bloom where I’m planted,” he said, “and do the very best I can to mature in that particular position.”
He encourages people of all ages to read a variety of subjects to expand their knowledge, including philosophy (Greek philosophy is a favorite of his), society, and politics because his says, “Your environment is not limited to an acre of ground – your area is the universe.”
“We must always be receptive to acknowledging the fact that the truth is bigger than any one of us, therefore, there’s always more we can learn and always more we can receive,” he added. “Even when people reach the age of living in senior citizen facilities, such as this, it’s important that they, too, retain the recognition that life is process and always truth for them is just beyond the limits of their own knowledge. Helping them to understand this and move on from here is one of the most important things we can do for people.”
And the key, he believes, is that one should never stop learning – or living.
“A large percentage of the public, I think, has the idea that facilities like The Ridglea are places where people go to gradually die,” he said. “But The Ridglea is a place where we encourage people to come and actually live – to recognize that all life is sacred and it’s as important the last 10 years as were the first 10.
“If you come with an open mind and an open heart, you can continue to expand yourself, you can become a living example of what it means to grow old gracefully.”