LACONIA — How likely is it that three sisters from Norwood, Massachusetts would end up living at the same continuing care retirement community in New Hampshire? Well, very likely as it turns out. Sisters Janina Majcher, 98, Irene Barninger, 95 and Sue Knowles, 93, are all residents at Taylor Community.
Sue moved in first in 1993, with her late husband, Deryck after friends mentioned they should check out the facility. Janina followed in 1997 and Irene in 1999. What brought them to Taylor? "It had a good reputation," said Irene matter-of-factly.
All three women enjoy having their own apartments, yet take comfort in the fact they can still be a family.
Growing up, Irene said the three were very different. Janina suffered from polio as a child. She was an accomplished pianist, spending hours practicing. "She had small hands with a delicate touch and was very good at sewing and crocheting, making cloth dolls and toys, which she sold off our back porch."
"Jan was smart," added Sue. "She skipped a grade."
Irene spoke of Jan's sense of humor. "A couple of years ago we took her to the dentist, who was very kind. Upon leaving he came out to say goodbye and as she was getting on the elevator she waved and said, 'Adios Doctor!'"
Today Jan lives in the nursing section of Taylor. Although her health isn't the best, she enjoys having Sue come and read to her nightly.
Irene manages the library in her building and regularly sends books up to Sue. "Every night she asks if I can come back tomorrow," said Sue with a smile.
Irene is proud of the sisters' strong, Polish background. Both she and Sue raved about their mother's cooking and the traditional Polish dishes she would make.
Irene, who was happiest when working with figures, made a career as a bookkeeper until retirement. She moved to a condo following her husband's passing. After breaking her hip and the subsequent healing, she decided to move to Taylor.
Though Irene has her health issues as well, she remains upbeat and is a regular participant in Taylor Home daily functions. Besides being in charge of the assisted living's library, she's a participant of the chorus.
Sue was the athlete, playing baseball and volleyball and after she married, golf. She also enjoyed cooking and singing. "When I was in my 20s Irene and I were in Boston and saw a place where you could make a recording. Irene insisted I go in and I made two records. My son still has them today," she said.
While she had aspirations of being both a singer and a dietician, Sue ended up becoming a registered medical secretary, which she really enjoyed.
She also helped name one of the streets on the Taylor Community campus. "We used to live on Fox Hollow Lane. The postman came by one day and said they were thinking of renaming it because there were too many streets beginning with the letter F in town. He suggested we get together with our neighbors and come up with a new name."
Sue took the first letters from the names of the two other couples on the block as well as she and her husband's and tried to play around with them. The group had recently gone to the movies together to see "Amadeus." The letters she had and the movie title matched and she suggested they change the name to Amadeus. Everyone liked the idea and the post master agreed. Today it is known as Amadeus Drive.
Both women credit their longevity to good genes. Their mother lived to be 89 and their father, 94.
Irene's philosophy on life is based on reading "The Power of Positive Thinking" many years ago. "I try to keep a happy, positive attitude," she said.
Sue's rule to live by is to be as honest as you can. "Try to be understanding and empathetic of others, especially the elderly. Some day that will be you," she said.
Taylor Community is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit Continuing Care Retirement Community whose mission is to provide the highest quality retirement living options to support the independence, health and dignity of community residents. For more information, call 524-5600 or visit www.taylorcommunity.org.
The photo caption is as follows: Irene (second from left), Sue and Jan, pose with their mother, Catherine, several years ago.
Unfortunately, a current photo of the three together isn't possible due to health issues. I do hope you'll find this of interest and appreciate your consideration.