Rosa Villarreal does more than talk with her hands. They dance as she speaks—gracefully, rhythmically and eloquently. The Casitas de Villa Corona resident’s eyes twinkle when she talks of her happy memories and they fill with tears when she recounts the tough times. She is impeccably dressed, down to the polish on her nails. Her apartment is spotless.
Merced Administrative Assistant Maria Camacho serves as an interpreter as Villarreal tells how she came to the United States with her son, in the midst of an excruciating battle with cancer. She and Camacho grasp hands and Camacho tears up in sympathy.
Villarreal is preparing for her 82nd birthday as we speak with her, and she says it is going to be the best birthday she’s ever had. When asked how she likes living in Casitas de Villa Corona, her face crinkles into a grin and she says she’s very grateful for what “Father God” has placed in her path. She looks at everything in her life through the lens of her deep faith, and she uses the words “Father God” frequently.
A mother of seven children and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren, she lives alone now but has no complaints. A home health care worker takes her on errands and helps her with housework. She participates in many of the resident services activities offered at Casitas, and she has an impish, fun-loving side. She says she joined in the “Bowling for Chicken” event and “… I actually hit all of the pins.”
Casitas de Villa Corona is an apartment community for very low-income seniors sponsored by Merced and funded through a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly grant, the Bexar County HOME Investment Partnership Program and the City of San Antonio.
Villarreal heard about Casitas through former Community Manager Elizabeth Rodriguez, when she was attending a support group for families contending with cancer. “I felt attracted to the place and knew I belonged here,” she says.
As the conversation with Villarreal comes to a close, it has become a lesson in aging in place, gracefully and gratefully. Even her goodbye is infused with her faith. “‘Adios’ and ‘Goodbye’ mean the same thing,” she says. “‘Go with God.’”