When Karaleen Councell, age 87, and Anne Wheatley, age 89, lived on neighboring farms in Matthewstown, halfway between Denton and Easton, the two women arranged gatherings between the two families and socialized regularly. Each of them had four children of roughly the same ages. The adults often played cards together and had New Year’s Eve parties every year. They never dreamed they would retire to The Dixon House in Easton within a month of one another – rekindling their friendship and bringing their families together once again.
According to Pam Sard, Karaleen Councell’s daughter, “They wink at each other now when they see each other.”
Marti Wright, Anne Wheatley’s daughter adds, “They hadn’t seen each other in several years because of the illnesses of both of their spouses and because of their developing dementia. Both were married to their husbands for 60 years or more. Now they eat together every day, do crafts together, and giggle about the old times just like they did when they were younger.”
Both Sard and Wright reminisce about the families’ time together when they were young. While the children attended different schools in Easton – the Councell children went to Talbot County Public Schools, while the Wheatley children went to Sts. Peter and Paul, they still got together regularly. After the Wheatleys moved to Easton during their older children’s high school years and the Councells sold their dairy cows in the 70s, time was then freed up in the summer months for the families to take the children on camping trips together to places like Frontiertown near Ocean City, Seaside Camp Resort near Bethany Beach, Delaware, and even Chincoteague, Virginia for the annual Pony Swim.
Sard states that her grandmother was at Dixon House and Wright’s parents were friends with a couple who lived at Dixon House, so both families were familiar with the surroundings. The Dixon House’s original purpose at the turn of the century when it was founded was “to provide a comfortable and affordable home for senior women.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, however, both families were hesitant to move their mothers for fear of not seeing them during the stay-at-home orders. In the end, though, both agree that it was the best decision they could have made for keeping their loved ones safe during the pandemic.
Sard comments, “We wanted our mother to be active and The Dixon House offered that. She is thriving here. She feels she is contributing by helping to organize social gatherings like in the old days, which makes her happy.”
Wright adds, “The caregivers here have been amazing and our mom is well taken care of. She was an avid gardener and was even able to help plant and tend the flowers on the front porch at The Dixon House after she arrived.”
Just to be sure they always have a place to chat, the Councells added an extra chair in Karaleen’s room for Anne so the two can visit whenever they want. The Wheatleys hope to do the same in Anne’s room.