A Family Affair: Two Generations Living at Kendal

When Mary Jim Fulton first helped her parents as they moved into Kendal at Lexington in July 2000, she couldn’t have possibly predicted that, nearly 20 years later, she and her husband would also become residents. Her father, General James M. Morgan, Jr., and mother, Jean, were among the very first founding residents at Kendal.

“Of the nine people who arrived [on the first day Kendal opened], seven of them have since passed on over a 20-year period,” Jim says. “We call them the Pioneers.”

In his nearly two decades as a resident, Jim has experienced nearly every option for living space at Kendal — from first moving into a cottage, to downsizing to an apartment, to visiting Jean in Borden Health Center after she suffered a stroke. Jim lives in Webster Assisted Living; Jean passed away in 2016.

“We always felt that they were in good hands and there was nothing my brothers or I had to be concerned about,” Mary Jim says of the years her parents lived at Kendal while she resided in Pennsylvania with her husband. Plus, it didn’t take long for life at Kendal to truly become a family affair: Jean’s identical twin sister, Jane, and her husband, Bill Wright, moved to the Kendal campus in 2004. Bill is still a resident, while Jane has since passed away.

“I just knew they were in the best care environment they could be in,” Mary Jim says. “I considered the staff family. We knew them and saw them often.”

An Opportunity to Move Home

After her own retirement three years ago, Mary Jim and her husband began thinking about returning to Virginia. As taking care of their current home became more burdensome, they considered their options — and, of course, Kendal came to mind. What was initially predicted to be a five-year waitlist was soon expedited with the start of the Sunrise Ridge Circle expansion.

“We got on the waiting list at Kendal at Lexington, and they told us they were building these new cottages,” Mary Jim says. “We thought this might be the time to jump in and be part of that.”

This past September, Mary Jim and her husband were among the first residents to move into one of the cottages on Sunrise Ridge Circle, putting her just a short walk from her father’s apartment in the Webster Center.

“Spending an afternoon with my dad used to be a seven-hour drive, and now it’s just across the street,” she says.

While the actual moving and unpacking process has been slow, Mary Jim says the staff she’s known for years has welcomed her with open arms and it’s been wonderful to get to know their community of new neighbors. Of course, there’s no competition for her favorite neighbor.

“It’s a gift, that’s what I would call it — a real gift to be able to have the time with my father,” she says. “Everybody feels this way about their parents, but I feel I had the best parents in the world and always enjoy being with them.”

When asked if he ever imagined he’d one day be living in the same retirement community as his daughter, Jim gives a small, surprised laugh: “I never did!” Now, the two generations — together with Mary Jim’s Uncle Bill — both call Kendal home.

“It’s just been wonderful, and I do feel like I’m home again because I’m back in my hometown and being at Kendal feels the same as being at home,” Mary Jim says.

Interested in joining the Kendal family? Contact us to learn more.