For much of the early part of her life, Barbara did everything to get ready for the working world. After graduating from Redford High School in Detroit, she went on to attend Highland Park Junior College.

“I was in the retailing program,” she said. “But I also worked at the same time.”

So she worked her way up with the B. Siegel Company in downtown Detroit, eventually getting to the personnel department for the upscale women’s clothing store. After three years, she found a better-paying position with the Michigan Consolidated Gas Company.

But that’s also where she met her future husband, Dante. Once they married, that led her to a more fulfilling calling — motherhood.

Enjoying the family life

“My husband didn’t want me to work,” she said. “Fortunately, I was able to stay home and raise my son.”

Barbara later had two more children. While speaking of her children, she expressed gratitude for being around for all of her kids’ milestones, which is something many parents who work outside of the home don’t get to fully experience.

“Well, I think they miss a lot of things with their children,” she said. “When they are little, every day, they do something different. I remember when my oldest son first started talking. He began at 9 months. Those are things you remember about them.”

Barbara and Dante raised their family in Sterling Heights and were married for 61 years. They were able to take many trips “Up North,” especially to places like Whitefish Point, where they often rented the same cabin for many years.

“We had a good life,” she said.

Making sure she would be in good hands

When Dante developed Alzheimer’s, it became apparent he needed to be living someplace where his needs could be met. That’s what brought Dante to Oakmont Rochester Assisted. But before he left home, he had a question for Barbara.

“He asked, will you be all right at home?” she said. “I said yes, I’ll come to see you every day.”

When Barbara had a stroke, she also moved to Rochester. Dante died a year ago, but Barbara knows she is in living in the ideal place for her needs.

“I like being with people,” she said. “You know, being active, doing things. I always like playing games or singing, which we do. I’ve met some nice people here.”

It seems Barbara has discovered the key to getting the most out of living in a senior community.

“You’ve got to be a friend to make friends. And you have to enjoy people,” she said. “Everybody’s life is different. I found a couple different ladies who have things in common with all my life; places we’ve been or where our parents came from. It is still amazing to come across that.”