When Mary, an 89-year-old widow living independently, learned that she was going to be living at Heart & Hearth, she said, “Oh boy, a new adventure!” It has been a joy to live with and care for Mary. She has such a positive attitude that rubs off on others. Despite being legally blind and very hard of hearing, Mary continues to bring a sense of joy and love to all whom she encounters.

Mary grew up on a farm in Flushing, Michigan. When she found out we had chickens, she was very excited, as they reminded her of her childhood. Mary’s parents were from Czechoslovakia and were important in her life.

Mary aspired to be an artist from a young age, and her parents encouraged and supported her pursuit of that dream. She won a scholarship to an art school in New York City and then began a career in commercial art. Mary is still friends with two of her co-workers from that era. Alan Grant, who lives in NYC, is 98 years old. He calls Mary weekly. I enjoy talking with him as well. Her other friend from that era is Norman Bridwell, creator of Clifford, The Big Red Dog.

Mary enjoyed the camaraderie that this group of artists created. Conrad Ljungberg was one of the artists in this close knit group of friends. He and Mary met six days after Conrad arrived in the U.S. from Sweden.

Mary and Conrad fell in love and married a few years later. They went to live in Mexico for a year, and then moved to Florida for six years. They then discovered Asheville and the mountains here. Conrad said it reminded him of Sweden. They moved to Asheville in the early seventies, continuing their commercial art work for companies like General Electric. Mary and Conrad designed the artwork that is currently on the City of Asheville police cars. This was their last project together.

Mary enjoyed gardening on their acre of land in West Asheville for 33 years in her spare time. She also enjoyed copying famous paintings. Several of her paintings are displayed in the Heart & Hearth living room.

Mary enjoys her life here at Heart & Hearth. Although she is no longer able to paint, she does love showing her art and talking about the paintings with visitors. She and another resident usually take one or two walks per day: sometimes they walk in the morning up the shaded lane that is our drive for the newspaper, and almost every afternoon they head back up for the mail. The chickens gather around the back door in the afternoons waiting for Mary to come out with bread crumbs. They will jump up on her lap when she sits on the bench under the cherry tree.

Mary’s consistent joy in living is a delight to be around. We are so glad that Mary chose Heart & Hearth as her home. It has truly been, and continues to be, an adventure!

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