The Lunch Crew

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Conversation, laughter, and the sounds of lunch being served fill the dining room on the first floor of Renaissance Gardens at Seabrook, the health care neighborhood located in the gated Seabrook community in Tinton Falls, New Jersey. People seated at the square tables, each with pink linens and a fresh floral arrangement, are trading news and talking about friends, family, and the day’s events.

At one table, Irene Scarduzio leans across a corner to speak quietly with a good friend. They nod their heads in agreement and smile at a shared observation.

“We have the most wonderful conversations,” Irene relates later that day. “Sometimes I take her out to brunch on Sundays. Most of the time we eat here, at Renaissance Gardens.”

Irene knows Renaissance Gardens well. She lives in an independent apartment at Seabrook, just a shuttle-bus-ride away. Some time back, she was hospitalized for an irregular heart beat. When her hospital care was completed, she chose to come to Renaissance Gardens for her short-term rehabilitation.

During her stay, as she worked with her Renaissance Gardens physical therapist to return to better health, and required less and less care, she met her friend. Then, “stronger than ever,” as she describes herself, she returned to her independent apartment. But she continues to visit her friend almost every day.

What do they talk about? Irene is a retired dancer, restaurant owner, and real estate broker. She can tell you about her visit, long ago, to Cuba, to refine her Latin steps and about working the Catskills and Pocono resort circuits as a performer.

She also recalls a treasured photo taken of her and actor George Raft and teaching dance in her New York studio. Her stories about the challenges of operating The Pub on the Square in New York and about the satisfactions of helping clients in Pompano Beach, Florida find the perfect home are wonderful.

More than anything else, though, she loves to talk about the pride she takes in her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. “That’s what brought me back to this part of the country,” she explains. “I’m 80. I want to be near family. I came to Seabrook and fell in love with the place.”

She continues, “Having been in real estate, I recognized this was a quality place. Everything you need is right here. My apartment is perfect. Cooking is my hobby, and I can spend days in the kitchen making oxtails and lamb shanks, earthy meals. My doctors are right here in the community. I can take the campus shuttle wherever I want to go.”

More often than not, where she wants to go is back to visit her friend at Renaissance Gardens. “We’re comfortable here; we’re comfortable with each other. I take advantage of the good things at this place. I see my friends. We talk. It’s a beautiful thing.”

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