Earlier this month we lost my father-in-law Ken, aka PopPop, or PP for short (per my sister-in-law Cathy) to cancer. During his illness his clan visited him often; I enjoyed chatting with PP, even though I mostly did the talking. He was a man of few words, but when he spoke it was worth listening to what he had to say. Needless to say, since his son Michael and I were high school sweethearts and we’ve been married for 30-plus years, I’ve been listening carefully to PP for most of my life. One of the last things PP and I discussed was his home in Florida. He told me, blue eyes twinkling, “Darlene, you would love it there. Plenty to do. Live music and dancing every night. A bar on every corner of the square.” (Like I said, PP had known me for a very long time.)
PP had his place in Florida for about the last 18 months of his life. As I’ve mentioned before PP and his clan love the beach, pools, and basically water of any sort that you can body surf, swim or cool off in. That’s why it didn’t surprise my husband (or me) when PP told us he’d bought a place in FL. At first, we figured it was a beach-front condo. Maybe in St. Augustine where we’d had so many fun family vacations with him and the clan over the years. Maybe a bit further down the Atlantic coast. Well, he surprised me. He bought a place in a community called The Villages. It’s not located on the Atlantic. Or the Gulf Coast. It’s located midway between — about an hour north of Orlando. That puzzled me, even though I could tell when I spoke with PP that he really loved his lifestyle when he was home at The Villages.
Michael and I planned to visit him in December 2012 when he was scheduled to be there. Unfortunately, he took very ill and never made the trip. That’s one reason why Michael and I made the 7-hour round trip from our Hyatt Coconut Plantation vacation in Bonita Springs, FL to The Villages last week: We wanted to see the place that wasn’t near the Gulf or the ocean that made PP so happy. And I want to share that place with you. You see, if it made PP happy, it might make you happy too. And PP loved it when everyone was happy. So here’s why we think PP loved The Villages: The people who live there are very friendly. Very friendly. While we were at PP’s home a number of neighbors stopped by to visit. And with 30-plus golf courses, multiple recreation centers with pools in every neighborhood, dancing in the town square of his choice every evening, a large selection of places to eat within striking distance of his gas-powered golf cart, well-thought-out medical access and so much more, we figured PP never missed the sound of the ocean, particularly because he arranged for his own water feature at his home, right outside his screened porch!
Michael and I think that The Villages will show up on many people’s radar screens as a possibility for retiring to a ReloSouth destination. Why? Because of the three town squares that offer a variety of shopping and dining options, movie theaters and free nightly live entertainment. Because of the 30 (and counting) free 9-hole executive golf courses. Because of the neighborhood, village and regional recreational facilities. Because of the health & wellness facilities and options, the choices of houses of worship and the Lifelong Learning College. Because it’s reasonably priced. And because you can drive a gas-powered golf cart everywhere in town, along with the other 35,000 or so in residence!
Here’s a peek at PP’s pad:
And down a short center hall are two bedrooms and two full bathrooms.
PP’s detached home is about 1,200 square feet of lovely with a large garage; it’s landscaped beautifully and sports a fountain off the front screened porch! That fountain, from what I’ve heard, was PP’s pride and joy. Trust me when I tell you that you can even hear it around the corner on the side patio.
If you decide to visit The Villages, let me know. Or better yet? Just tell them PopPop sent you!