Denise and Tom Slaughter’s Story

You might say that Denise Slaughter had a very long “courtship” with St. John’s well before she and her husband Tom moved into their Brickstone by St. John’s bungalow. As a Brighton resident, Denise had been coming to St. John’s Meadows twice a week for over 14 years to water aerobics classes held at the St. John’s pool through a partnership with the Arthritis Foundation and the Town of Brighton Recreation Department. “I made friends here and really was impressed with this place,” says Denise.

According to Denise, when it came time that “we ought to start thinking about a place like this,” she began her research into area senior living communities with a definitive checklist of requirements in mind. Denise and Tom wanted to avoid the “buy-in” component required by some communities so that they could still have adequate financial savings for other passions like travel. It was also important to them that pets were accepted–Tom and Denise adore their cat Manny, who many St. John’s neighbors have gotten to know by his collar bell that jingles while roaming outdoors in the community. “Some places say they are ‘pet-friendly,’ but aren’t really,” says Denise, who notes that some communities she researched did not allow residents to get another pet if yours passes away. Having lost their beloved dog Joe last spring, the Slaughters  plan to add to their pet family in the near future after taking some time to travel.

A little over a year ago, feeling confident after all their research, the Slaughters put their name on a waiting list for a Brickstone bungalow. “I couldn’t find a place better than this,” says Denise. This past spring, desiring to put their house in Brighton on the market during the favorable economic environment, they did not want to wait any longer for a bungalow to open up. They agreed to move in to an apartment so that they could have priority status for the next available bungalow. According to Denise, they had expected to be in the apartment for at least 6 months before a bungalow opened up for them. They were pleasantly surprised when it was only 6 weeks.

Now, having been in their newly decorated bungalow, with paint colors of their own choosing (Denise happily notes that “Quietude,” a very calming green shade darns the main room walls), since late June, Denise says “I just love it here.”

Both Tom and Denise have found benefits here that suit their personalities. According to Denise, Tom likes his solitude and enjoys running and hiking on the trails, which connect to the Erie Canal and other areas in Brighton. Denise is definitely the “joiner” of the two and has a list of regular activities such as the writer’s group, meditation group, pool classes, and women’s socials that she attends regularly. “When the activity directory comes out at the end of the month, I am like a kid with a Christmas catalog,” Denise says with a laugh.

Tom and Denise, who are both authors with an impressive list of over 10 books between them that bear their names, also find connection in the St. John’s community with the fact that many of their fellow residents are talented, professional people like themselves. “There are very interesting people here–some very creative people–artists, musicians, writers,” says Denise. In addition to writing books, Tom is a recently retired history professor and Denise is a retired academic editor, who also freelanced as a book editor. Denise retired before Tom, at 67, to conserve her eyesight and so that she could devote time to her own writing.

Together, they do not fit the stereotype that some people may falsely have in mind about those who live in senior living.  And, Denise admits that shortly before they moved, Tom too was not quite sure if he was ready because he was still working and active with professional pursuits. However, for the both of them, the move was about not only having a plan for today, but also for tomorrow. “In a place like this, if something happens to one of us, we know that the other will be fine,” says Denise.

“It is a real feeling of security for the future,” she adds.