There were five of us — the invincible New York Ryan Girls — who all eventually wound up living in Phoenix with four of us living at the Beatitudes. In birth order there were Fran, Betty, Edith, Pat and Joyce. None of us had ever been any farther west than Philadelphia. After much discussion we decided to move west.
So in 1953 we all moved to Phoenix. Betty and her family were the first to arrive early that year. Next, Joyce and our mother arrived in March. Fran and I and our families followed in June. Edith came a decade later because she made several stops along the way, but finally she, too, settled in Phoenix. Her health was poor, however, and too soon after arriving we lost her.
Why this mass exodus from New York? Well, that’s another story. The point of this story is how four of us wound up at the Beatitudes.
After her husband died Fran continued to live in their family home alone despite her family’s fears for her safety. When advertising leaflets from the Beatitudes Campus started to arrive in the mail promoting the new Promenade buildings we all were intrigued. I set up an appointment for Fran, Joyce and me to take a tour. Unfortunately, on the day of our appointment Fran was ill, but Joyce and I decided to keep the appointment and bring the information back to Fran.
By the time we had completed the tour of the Beatitudes campus, Joyce and I had not only signed up Fran but ourselves and husbands as well. At that time, completion of Central Park North was a year or more away. Plenty of time, we thought, to convince our husbands that this was the right move. And fortunately, convince them we did.
Fran paved the way, brave lady that she was; she moved in without knowing a soul . She was one of the first residents of Central Park North. Rosie Sells and her sister Bobbie Buckner took her under their wings, and Fran soon found herself enjoying her new home and her new friends very much.
I was next to move in, but not as I had hoped. I lost my husband in 2009 and decided to move, but with the declining real estate market I was unable to sell my house and claim my apartment. So, Becky Black suggested I give up my reserved
apartment in Central Park South and take a rental apartment in North Plaza. It is a decision I have never regretted.
Betty, who was the instigator of the Phoenix adventure, after several years in Phoenix, had to move to follow her husband on his job transfers to various places. They eventually settled in Dallas. After her husband died she continued to live there alone until it became evident that she needed some assistance. We convinced her to return to Phoenix, and she moved into Plaza View. We were pleased to have her close and to assist her in her final months.
That left only Joyce, whose husband died in 2010, living out there off campus — though it was nearby. It took a while to get her moving in the right direction, but she fell in love with an apartment in Central Park South and finally moved in just last month on November 9th. It is so nice having her so close.
And that completes the story of the Sister Act.
Fran was active and alert until a fall caused a downward spiral and she left us two years ago. Betty developed severe memory issues and her last days were spent being cared for in Vermilion Cliffs.
Joyce and I are in pretty good health and plan to stay that way for a very long time. My favorite line is from a George Burns song that we Line Dancers dance to on Thursday mornings: "But I love life; I'd like to do it again."
This article originally appeared in Roadrunner Extra!, the resident newsletter of Beatitudes Campus.