The aroma of fresh-baked cookies often beckons visitors into Lea’s apartment at Vista Prairie at Copperleaf in Willmar, MN. Gingersnaps were among Al’s favorites. Lea’s husband of 65 years passed away eight months ago at the age of 94. While his death was not COVID-related, the loss still weighs on Lea, their daughters Darla and Deb, and the whole extended family.
“Without COVID, when we used to go to the dining room, he liked that because he liked to visit,” Lea remembers. “He was a great visitor.”
Visits in the dining room are coming back now that all residents are vaccinated. Al’s photo hung on Copperleaf’s wall of honor along with other veterans. He and Lea moved in two years ago, from their home in nearby Atwater where they had operated the Willow Cove Family Restaurant for more than 11 years. Lea maintains her Atwater connections through the love of her church family.
“The pastor was here on Saturday,” says Lea. “He comes quite often.” Besides church and family visits, now on the rise, Lea stays in touch with friends at Copperleaf -- active with exercise, regular devotions, Bingo, excursions to the Dairy Queen and decorating for holidays.
Lea’s eldest daughter, Darla, registered with Copperleaf as an essential caregiver. In that capacity she was able to participate in the community’s vaccination program, administered by Thrifty White pharmacy.
“I do all the paperwork for mom,” explains Darla. “I feel like a huge burden has been lifted from me because I’m not at the 65-year-old mark where I would be eligible for it this soon.”
Lea recently agreed to be a Copperleaf spokesperson in a series of local radio spots; “We act like family,” Lea comments in one spot. “We always ask how everyone is.” It was the feeling of home that sold Al and Lea, Darla and Deb on Copperleaf. That and the full-size oven so she could keep baking cookies and other traditional recipes like Lutefisk and Lefse. And as Lea reports in yet other radio spot, “Oh, and the staff is wonderful, very accommodating.”
Copperleaf senior living community offers 55 one-and-two-bedroom assisted living apartments, 20 memory care suites and seven care suites, providing 24-hour continuous senior care.