Happiness at Harmony Brentwood

Finding a second home states away at a senior living community.

It’s not often that we hear of a life being blessed with not one, but two fairy tales. In the case of Don and Arline Shearer that just happens to be the case. High school sweethearts from Pennsylvania, the Schearers spent over 45 of their almost 67 year marriage living “in heaven” as Don refers to it, south of Los Angeles on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Simply standing in their driveway provided a breathtaking view up the coast towards Malibu.

Don and Arline have three children, a daughter followed by two sons, six grandchildren and two great –grandchildren. Don worked as a Civil Engineer for Atlantic Richfield and spent two years prior with the Army Corps of Engineers with a final rank of First Lieutenant after ROTC in college. Although he has her heart now, Don won’t fail to mention that Arline didn’t even glance his way until the end of their junior year. 

As with all things, seasons come and go and change is inevitable. One of those changes was deciding if and when moving to a senior living community was the correct next step. For Don and Arline it was a natural progression and not wrought with needs or a dire catalyst. Don made it clear, “it was our choice”.  Don and Arline’s youngest son, Bill, and his wife, Carol, moved to Brentwood in 2004 while their other children remained in California. The search began both in Tennessee and California. Like most house hunting, the process was not quick and Don and Arline saw many, many facilities in both states. In what is a fantastic coincidence, Don's son Bill, had seen an advertisement in Brentwood Lifestyle for Harmony’s open house while it was under construction.

To hear Don, though, Harmony in Brentwood fits he and Arline like a glove and it was the right fit from the moment they stepped into the facility. When asked if he misses anything from his home in California, after pausing to think, he mentions one thing, “I do. I miss seeing the ocean every day.” It is obvious he and Arline are very happy with their decision to make Harmony home. One of the many decisions that factored in Don and Bill’s final decision matrix was the “wow factor”. Upon walking into Harmony you immediately see “this grand entryway you didn’t see in other places. You have 3-4 floor plans to choose from.” Clearly Harmony places value on diversity of choices and with their three levels of care, they hope to be the only choice their residents need to make for when, as Don puts it with a laugh, “you are older, older.”

Both Don and Bill mention that no matter the item on their list, Harmony was constantly meeting their wants and needs.  When ranked against the others overall, facility and care were number one. As Don puts it, waving a hand around with a smile on his face, “Where else has all of this?” Ambiance was a driving factor for the Schearers along with the overall atmosphere. Their goal for each meal in the dining room is to dine with someone new and learn about the interesting lives of their neighbors.

It almost seems like resort-life more than real-life. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday there is a family friendly Happy Hour at 4pm that is “packed”. Harmony encourages family and friends to join in the socializing.  Harmony really promotes the family atmosphere. To hear Bill speak about Harmony, he’s gained more than peace of mind, he’s gained family members. Both his parents are only children and with the relationships they have built with other residents he feels he’s gained aunts and uncles, “it’s really more than I expected.” Both sets of Schearers are highly complementary of the staff and the feelings are mutual. “They know you and they know you by name,” Don says.

Don and Arline began ballroom dancing at age 60 and quickly became quite competitive. Don boasts about how dancing highlighted Arline’s beauty and talent recalling some of Arline’s best competitive performances; one of his favorites to “Oh Pretty Woman”. The Schearers were even in the sexy Hollywood blockbuster Dance with Me about a Cuban dancer featuring Vanessa Williams.

The Schearers happiness and zest for life are contagious and is what most of Generation Z would call “goals.” While Harmony has a salon, Arline chooses to go off-site to Hair Expressions in Brentwood with her daughter-in-law Carol to get her hair done. And like many other female Brentwood residents, no day out is complete without a stop at The Puffy Muffin. Arline’s go-to is the breakfast sandwich.

And don’t think things stay tame at Harmony.  The broadcast of the Titan’s playoff games in the Theater Room bring out the competitiveness and bantering nature of all in attendance. On more low-key nights Don and Arline like to watch game shows. At Harmony it’s always on to the next fun event or mixer and the Shearers are happily all in.

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