“Through a chain of events over a period of time, roles get reversed and I’m going to be there for mom, like she was for me.”
Ray and Rose Riggerello are well known and loved at St. John’s—from St. John’s Meadows where Rose lived for 12 years, to rehabilitation where both Rose and her husband have stayed, to St. John’s Home where her son Ray has visited her every day for the past 15 months. “Even though I probably don’t have to come every day, I still do. It’s something that I think I owe mom, and because dad is gone I owe it to him too,” says Ray.
Ray grew up in Rochester on High Street where his parents lived for over 50 years. “It seems like mom and dad were always there, which they were.” The unwavering support of Ray’s parents helped shape his strong outlook on reciprocating that dedicated support later in life.
Both Ray and Rose have lived interesting lives. “I guess you could say Rosie was a riveter,” Ray says with a chuckle as he describes his mother’s life. Rose was an electronic assembler for a majority of her career until she went back to school and received her GED. After that she became an administrative assistant at Xerox for the remainder of her working life.
After she retired, Rose enjoyed crocheting and knitting all kinds of knick-knacks, decorations, blankets, and more while also taking an interest in arts and crafts. Many of her creations are proudly on display in her room where Ray helps her change out the hand-crafted decorations for the seasons.
A veteran and an industrial mechanic, Ray retired four years ago. After taking a year off to “enjoy the scenery and smell the flowers,” Rose started having some memory difficulties and began falling more often. Ray decided then that it was his turn to help his mom.
Ray started a portion of every day helping Rose and spending time with her at St. John’s Meadows. During that period, he became very well acquainted with everyone there. “They’re great people—the residents and the staff,” says Ray.
One day Rose fell and hurt herself badly, which led her to St. John’s Home where she could receive the care she needed. When deciding which facility would be best for her, Ray says “this is the only place I could picture mom in.”
Rose had already been in rehabilitation at St. John’s a few times after surgeries and Ray’s dad had also stayed at St. John’s for rehabilitation. Part of what convinced Ray that this was the right place for Rose was what rehabilitation here did for his father.
Ray did not think his dad was going to return home from rehabilitation after he entered. However, in a family meeting one day, the rehabilitation team told him that in a month’s time his father would be ready to leave. “Well, they sort of didn’t keep their promise,” Ray says with a twinkle in his eye, “it only took him three weeks.” Ray’s father passed away a few months later “but what they did for him here, I didn’t think was possible. The only way they could’ve done it is if everybody really cared, and they did.”
“They did something that I didn’t think was going to happen. That gave me a lot of faith in St. John’s.”
Ray knows he made the right decision. “I’ve been here every day so I know how she’s treated, and I know how the rest of the residents are being treated. . . they deserve dignity and respect, which is what they get here.”
If you ever want to make Rose and Ray’s day, you can find them by the fireplace in the Hastings lobby, enjoying each other’s company. A smile and a simple hello goes a long way for both of them.
“It doesn’t take very much to smile, wave, and say hello to any of the residents when you pass by and that’s almost 100% of the people that work here, do that. No matter what their job is. It means an awful lot.”