Highlands’ Frances Hart encourages: “Take Care of Each Other”

A series that started with traditional senior housing at Gardens at St. Elizabeth, then home sharing, and went on to explore cohousing and ADU’s, concludes here with a look at two more living arrangements North Denver’s older adults have enjoyed in recent years.

Frances Hart bought a duplex near Highlands Square in 1980, with her daughters Heather and Bonnie in mind. The family lived on one side while renting out the other, anticipating that a day might come when one of the daughters would appreciate an affordable place to live on her own.

The day did come, and the duplex ping-ponged back and forth between daughters for a few years. But now, as time goes by, Bonnie and her partner have settled into other reasons to stay. She enjoys gardening with her mom, and really likes being close-by, especially as COVID-19 has pinned us all to our homes. The two sit on their front porches and chat or share extra servings from batches of soup.

Hart misses her pre-pandemic routine down at the Highland Recreation Center, and especially misses the longtime friends she doesn’t see often now. And she’s scared that when Silver Sneakers classes at the Rec Center start back up again, people she cares about will be missing. It’s unsettling to think about.

Alongside the losses and uncertainty of 2020, it turned out to be a really good year to live this close to family.

Nana Terrazas and the Terrazas-Hoover Family: Katie, Mike, Jude, Veda and pup Luna
Photo by Katie Terrazas-Hoover

While Hart was raising her family here in Colorado, Mary Ann and Vince Terrazas were raising theirs in Indiana. Following years of vacationing here, the Terrazas’ set their sights on eventually retiring to Colorado. They didn’t know when that would be, and Mary Ann didn’t imagine making the move without her husband. But she remembers the day in 2014, 7 years after Vince passed away, when her daughter Katie Terrazas Hoover called from Denver with an offer—a plea really. Would her mom make the move to Denver to help take care of Katie and Mike’s daughter, Veda, and a new baby on the way?

Katie and Mike were staring at the reality of daycare expenses and had started to think creatively about how the home they had just purchased could be expanded to make room for Nana (Mary Ann).

“It’s time, let’s do it,” Terrazas replied. There was no hesitation. She got her house ready to sell, and Katie and Mike prepared for construction. A little over a year later, Terrazas had her own private wing in the Terrazas Hoover home near Inspiration Point Park. She plunged into activities with Veda and Jude, and art classes for herself.

Terrazas loves the climate here and Colorado’s open and accepting people. And it turns out that a woman who went to the high school she attended now lives just 3 blocks away. They take walks and spend time outdoors together.

Like Hart, Terrazas misses longtime friends. But COVID-19 stay-at-home measures have given her some built-in companionship (plus a few new duties, like hall monitor). And not unlike duplex living, Terrazas’ arrangement comes with a private space of her own when a little peace and quiet is in order.

The spirit these two have found in their living arrangements can be heard in Hart’s advice—to all of us—for getting through the rest of this pandemic: “Take care of each other.”

Kathryn has lived in North Denver since around the time the Mount Carmel High School building was razed and its lot at 3600 Zuni became Anna Marie Sandoval Elementary. She’s raised two children in the neighborhood, worked at several nonprofits, and facilitates a Caregiver Support Group for the Alzheimer’s Association Colorado Chapter.

Do you have story ideas for The Gray Zone? Email thegrayzone.denvernorthstar@gmail.com.


1 Comment

  1. We’ve had nothing but nightmare renters in the house next-door – I would leave this city i grew up in decades ago if I could

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