Loving the Honeymoon

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More than five years ago, Mrs. Helene Andrews moved into a retirement community in Washington, DC from her home in southern France to relax and “retire” where her late husband wished for her to be. The last thing she expected was to be busier than ever and start a new life with eight stepchildren and more grandchildren than she could count on her fingers and toes. But that’s just what she did on July 24, 2004.

Through the breakfast club at Knollwood, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) for career military officers and their female relatives, she met retired Army Colonel James Manning, an independent widower who started his 35-year military career in WWII and continued serving through Vietnam and Korea. He moved to Knollwood because, he says, “It’s comforting to know every level of care is here, if I ever need it.”

Helene and James spent two years courting at Knollwood-enjoying the communities’ amenities, activities, and social groups and trips. After many breakfasts together, their friendship blossomed into romance, and that’s when they realized that life had begun anew, even in their early 80s. They enjoyed social functions together, including symphonies, cocktail parties, and long lunches.

Soon, they found themselves planning a wedding where more than half of the guests were friends from Knollwood. All of their friends pitched in to help; their wedding photographer was friend and fellow Knollwood resident, Cap. Macauley Howard. Col. Manning’s first son, James, Jr., served as his best man, and his second son, John, escorted Helene to the altar.

After the wedding, the couple moved into a large, two-bedroom apartment. They are both very happy with the new apartment and the entire community. According to Mrs. Manning, “Knollwood is elegant and understated, and we wouldn’t live anywhere else.” The graceful surroundings are only enhanced by the phenomenal residents. “I have a much fuller life here, and the people we associate with are all so wonderful,” says Col. Manning.

The couple is still amazed by their good fortune and firmly believes that “life just has a way of working out.” When they are not visiting with their friends at Knollwood or enjoying classical music together, they are busy preparing for their next exotic vacation. Helene smiles as she says, “James is opening the world to me.” Col. Manning has always loved to travel; the first year he lived at Knollwood he was away for 222 days.

The newlyweds are currently planning a trip to the Eastern Caribbean in January, to Southern Spain in February, and to Greece in June. With such a full travel itinerary, they will certainly look forward to coming home to Knollwood to relax and prepare for their next adventure. Clearly, this couple plans to make the most of their “honeymoon period.”

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