Darlene Park has traveled the world, with Greece and Italy among her favorite stops, though she said, “I’ve loved everywhere I’ve been.”
She estimates she has been on 25 to 30 cruises.
And she counts Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, Maryland (she volunteered in the children’s correspondence department at the White House while there) and Mississippi among places she has called home.
Her journey has led her to Sycamore Reserve Senior Living in Indianapolis, where Park, 77, has resided since February 2022. Although her globetrotting days might be behind her, Park continues to lead an active life, one filled with friends, outings to watch plays, dining out, games and a book club she started at Sycamore Reserve.
“I’ve led a very full life. I’ve been very active everywhere I’ve been,” she said.
Park was living in the Gulfport-Biloxi area of Mississippi with her second husband, Richard Park, when he was moved into an assisted living facility because of Parkinson’s disease. While he was there, Darlene Park developed an eye condition, blepharospasm, and also fell and broke her leg.
Richard Park died in January 2021. Their house would be too difficult for Darlene Park to maintain alone, especially in hurricane country. With the help of CarePatrol Senior Placement Services, she began looking for independent senior living facilities in Indianapolis. She had lived in Indianapolis previously; it’s where she met Richard, and she has friends in the area.
Living at Sycamore Reserve has given her peace of mind. The staff make her feel at home.
“They’re wonderful here,” she said. “No. 1, your stress level comes down so much because you don’t have to worry about a house, meals, transportation, socialization. You’re still independent. You can come and go.”
Park also is thankful that pets are allowed. She has two Siamese cats.
When she’s not out and about, Park enjoys games and books. She and a small group of fellow Sycamore Reserve residents play an American version of mahjong, a tile-based Chinese game. And Park belongs to three books clubs, including one in Mississippi she stays in touch with via FaceTime.
Park said she is pleased the Sycamore Reserve book club has nine members. They read a book and meet for discussion, and perhaps some wine, on the second Monday of each month. She is surprised at how well the book club has been received.
“I didn’t think it would work,” she said, laughing. “We have the best of the best in the book club.”
Park misses her friends and other aspects of her life in Mississippi, including golf and her involvement with philanthropic efforts. Although she is happy and active at Sycamore Reserve, Park, who worked in the travel industry for 29 years, also misses frequent travels.
“I’m hoping it’s not over with completely,” she said. “I’ve been so many places, done so much. If it’s over, it’s over. Unfortunately, there comes a time in everybody’s life when things are going to change. It’s got to be accepted. I think I’m able to do that.”