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The typical love story ends with the couple living happily ever after, but often that’s just the beginning. Esther, 87, and LeRoy Barr, 86, having been living their happily ever after for the past 66 years, 64 of them married. But sadly, now Esther is having to cope with a new and difficult chapter of their lives together – LeRoy recently entered hospice care. She’s found comfort in knowing that he loves her, she loves him, and they’ve always forgiven each other. That simple mantra is what she calls “their secret to success six decades later.”

The couple now calls Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson home. The Barrs are proud parents to two daughters, and they have seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

“My parents have been able to live out their golden years together, but that doesn’t take away the heartbreak of hospice. I’m very proud my mom wants to tell her love story. Sharing the memories and stories has been very therapeutic for us as a family,” said their daughter, Debbie Kelley.

Esther’s memory is sharp. She vividly recalls the moment she first saw and met LeRoy at a bus stop in San Antonio, but it turns out he had his eye on her many months earlier in another city! When LeRoy and Esther both previously lived in Laredo, LeRoy remembered her working as a bank teller. As fate would have it, both were in San Antonio and they both got on the same bus. LeRoy had the courage to ask for her number, but Esther was hesitant. Recalling that time, Esther coyly mentions she had her option of suitors! But, thanks to her sister’s encouragement, she gave LeRoy her number.

Their story is a nice reminder that nice guys can finish first. Esther says it wasn’t a fast love, but his consistency grew on her. He was kind, nice, and always made her laugh. It didn’t matter how much money he had for dates because with LeRoy, it was always fun.

“When I met LeRoy, he didn’t even have a car yet. We’d ride the bus together, and he’d always make me smile. He’d point to a tree and exclaim, ‘That’s a kissing tree’ and steal a peck,” said Esther.

After nearly a year of dating, the couple got married on Nov. 9, 1956. Esther explains it wasn’t an extravagant wedding. They wanted something personal and private, so they tied the knot in a church in a ceremony that fit their style perfectly. Following the wedding, Esther says she was showered in presents from LeRoy! In the beginning, he brought her a small gift every day. They were always something personal, and never flowers.

“LeRoy isn’t always the best with dates. Sometimes he’d forget Valentine’s Day, but he always made it up to me,” said Esther. “He loves to tease me, no matter how long we’ve been married. When I’d go to the beauty shop, he’d ask, ‘Oh no, what happened, she couldn’t get you in?’ Anything to make me laugh. But I always knew when he was being sincere, and I always knew he loved me.”

“It’s been beautiful to get to watch Mr. and Mrs. Barr’s love story. Their example of love and commitment is something to be admired,” said Katie Hidalgo, executive director of Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson. “Mrs. Barr is such a strong woman, and we hope we can continue being a source of support for her and her family.”

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According to the most recent U.S. government report, there are currently more than 400,000 children in foster care in the United States. With the holidays right around the corner and in honor of National Adoption Month, Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson is partnering with Caring Hearts for Children and organizing a donation drive for local foster children. The nonprofit’s philosophy of care is child-centered, and the goal of the organization is to become the child-placing agency of choice. The list of needed items includes toys, pajamas, coats and jackets, and any kind of clothing for children between the ages of newborn to 18 years old. The items can be dropped off Monday through Saturday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson (1155 NW John Jones Dr.) inside House A. The donation drive will go until December 12. In addition to the donations, the residents of Mustang Creek Estates are writing letters of appreciation to the foster parents.

“We are thankful for Mustang Creek Estates and their willingness to help children who are currently in foster care,” said Brent Hagood, executive director of Caring Hearts for Children. “The holiday season can be difficult not only for the children but also for the foster parents. Every year, we give the families gifts during an annual holiday event, and the donations will be an amazing addition to those gifts. We appreciate the team and residents at the senior living community and anyone who decides to spread the joy this year by donating to our children.”

On average, there are about 90 foster children and 75 foster families in the Caring Hearts for Children Fort Worth area network, with over 40 boys and nearly 40 girls. The organization offers child placement, assessment, transitional living and adoption services. Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson realizes the importance of giving back not only during the holidays, but throughout the year. The senior living community regularly organizes donation drives for local schools, animal shelters and other organizations.  

“We knew there are a lot of children in the local area who are in foster care, but when we learned the numbers it was still shocking,“ said Melissa Meyer, executive director of Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson. “We want the team at Caring Hearts for Children to know that we value what they do for the families and the donation drive is the least we can do to show our support. We encourage the local community to join us and donate to those in need this holiday season. Every donation makes a difference.”

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First responders are brave men and women who are known for dedicating their lives to serving others, working 24-hour shifts and responding to many different calls a day in their communities. To show their appreciation, Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson decided hosted a first responder appreciation. This initiative was especially important to Berta Gilbert, resident of Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson, and her husband Dalton Gilbert. Dalton is a retired police officer of 34 years, and his wife spent 15 years as a deputy sheriff in Tarrant County. Prior to joining law enforcement, Dalton, an Air Force Veteran, spent time working in a factory never thinking he would become a police officer one day. Today, he and his wife of nearly 52 years looked forward to welcoming the local police officers and firefighters at the senior living community during this meaningful appreciation event.

“I genuinely feel that you need to have a special calling to be a first responder,” said Dalton. “Everyone goes through training when joining the fire or police department, and I believe that is the time many find out if the position is a good fit for them. It is a wonderful job to have, but it comes with great sacrifices. Not everyone is prepared for the dedication it truly takes. It’s never been a safe job either, but serving the community and knowing you are protecting people is the best reward.”

Dalton comes to visit his wife at Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson nearly every day. The couple has two children, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. One son continued their legacy and is a retired firefighter of nearly 34 years.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the estimated number of firefighters working in the U.S. is over one million. Of that number, a little over 30 percent are career firefighters and about 70 percent are volunteers. There are more than 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers now serving in the United States and about 12 percent of those are female. There were over 150 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2018. Knowing how dangerous these professions are, Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson decided to take the time to acknowledge these brave men and women for their lifesaving actions.

“Emergency responders risk their lives for other citizens and are a critical part of any community,” said Melissa Meyer, executive director of Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson. “We are thankful for everyone one of them, including Berta and Dalton.  We wanted to go the extra mile for these courageous men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to keep our neighborhood safe. Our residents enjoyed meeting their neighborhood heroes and hearing some of the stories they can share about their job.”

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Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson recognizes the importance of helping organizations in the local community and is pleased to announce it’s coordinating a donation drive for the Joshua City Animal Shelter this June. The senior living community is asking the public to drop off canned food for puppies and kittens, bleach, Dawn dish soap, laundry soap, cat litter, rawhide bones for dogs, cat and dog toys, old blankets, as well as old towels and wash cloths. The assisted living and memory care community encourages people who live in Burleson and the surrounding areas to drop off donations at Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson (1155 NW John Jones Dr. in Burleson) inside House A, Monday through Saturday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. from now until June 27.

“We are thankful for Mustang Creek Estates and their efforts to help us care for the animals in our shelter,” said Carla Hall, animal control officer at Joshua City Animal Shelter. “With the number of pets we currently have, we go through many of the needed items on daily basis, and we want the local public to know that every donation goes a long way.”

The late spring and summer months are busy times for animal shelters. People and their pets tend to be outside more, which can lead to pets wandering away from home and becoming strays, and many cats give birth during this time of the year. The Joshua City Animal Shelter works hard to provide the animals with the best care possible throughout the year.

“When we told our residents about this donation drive, they were thrilled because many of them grew up around animals and wanted to help the ones in need,” said Melissa Meyer, executive director of Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson. “After we heard that animal shelters fill up faster during warmer months, we started thinking about how to help, and we believe this donation drive is the least we can do. At Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson, we are always looking for ways to help others, whether it’s securing donations for the animal shelter, a school supply drive for local teachers, or organizing fundraising events. 

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In March, children around the country will celebrate the birthday of one of the most famous children’s book authors of all time: Dr. Seuss. The residents of Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson are gearing up for an upcoming visit to the Clinkscale Elementary School for a unique reading activity on Friday, March 8. During this special intergenerational activity, residents of the senior living community will visit children from kindergarten and second grade and read some of their favorite Dr. Seuss books. Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson will also donate books to the school to ensure these stories can be enjoyed by students for years to come.

“Our residents love visiting the children from Clinkscale Elementary, and they are thrilled to participate in an activity that allows them to pass the love of reading onto a younger generation,” said Melissa Meyer, executive director of Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson. “Visiting the kids always creates such positive energy and excitement among everyone, and we are thankful for the partnership with the school.”

Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson continually looks for ways to be active in the community and connect with people of all ages. The residents and team members enjoy sharing their positive spirit with others and inspiring them to look for fun, simple ways to spread joy. This special visit is part of an ongoing partnership between the senior living community and Clinkscale Elementary School. Residents of Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson visit the school regularly for a reading program. Intergenerational activities provide many benefits to the lives of seniors, including improving their physical and mental health. The children also value the connection with the older generation and truly benefit from the relationships with the seniors.

“It is very rewarding to see the seniors and our students interact with one another during each visit,” said Jaree Sheeler, counselor at Clinkscale Elementary School. “We realize the value of intergenerational activities, and we value the relationship with Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson. We look forward to many more visits.” 

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For many, yearly holiday traditions are what end up making the Christmas season feel nostalgic. Whether it’s decorating the Christmas tree or sharing memories and traditions, the holidays have a unique way of bringing families together. Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson recently hosted a special holiday event at the senior living community for the residents and their families, who had the opportunity to decorate gingerbread houses, sip on hot chocolate and enjoy a homelike holiday atmosphere. During this event, Santa visited the senior living community so residents and their families had the chance to see their children’s and grandchildren’s eyes light up as they sat on Santa’s lap and told him what they wanted for Christmas.

“It was heartwarming to see our residents and their families enjoying the holiday atmosphere in our community,” said Melissa Meyer, executive director of Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson. “The holiday season reminds us of the importance of family and friends, and we were thrilled to welcome our residents’ children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren into our community for this special event.”

This is one of the many intergenerational activities Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson provides for the residents. Events and activities like these greatly benefit the lives of seniors, including improving their physical and mental health. The children, whether they are family or not, also value the connection with the older generation and truly benefit from the relationships with the seniors.

“We have many reasons to give thanks, and we definitely find joy in the community we have at Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson,” said Meyer. “Our residents and their families had a blast during this event, and we are strongly considering making this one of our annual traditions.”

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It started with the small things, like not remembering where she put the keys, but when it progressed into more serious situations, like forgetting to turn off the stove, Kathy Davis and her 3 brothers knew it extended beyond the normal effects of aging and posed a safety risk. Davis’ mother, Doris Simmons, started showing these signs of dementia eight years ago. Simmons, 89, is a resident of Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson and has four children, eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. She was married for 63 years to a man who loved her unconditionally and who would do anything to protect his family, including covering up the signs of his wife’s dementia so their children wouldn’t worry. After he passed away, Davis and her brother noticed the memory decline, and they realized she needed a safe environment near Davis’ home with expert care. Davis visits her mother at Mustang Creek Estates several times a week and feels closer to her than ever before.  

“Since my mom was diagnosed with dementia I have learned a lot of things and one of them is patience as she tends to repeat herself a lot,” said Davis. “I believe our relationship has grown stronger over the past few years. She has always been an amazing mother to me, and I am thankful to have the opportunity to be there for her when she needs me and frankly even when she doesn’t.”

Simmons has always focused on her family and made a big deal out of holidays and her children’s birthday. Davis remembers when her mother would bake birthday cakes for them. She also recalls when her mother taught her how to sew on a sewing machine. Today, when Davis visits her mother, they play dominos together, do their nails and hair and other things that allow them to create an even stronger bond.

“It is so important to raise awareness about dementia, and I want people who have even a slight suspicion that something is odd about their parents or loved ones to please pay close attention to them,” said Davis. “Now when I just look into my mother’s eyes I see such a distance, it’s almost like she is missing a spark. It breaks my heart in a way, but I am thankful that other than her memory, she is completely healthy.”

“It’s so heartwarming to watch the strong relationship Kathy has with her mother, as they are truly inspiration to others” said Melissa Meyer, executive director of Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson. “Caring for loved ones living with dementia is never easy, and we are honored to offer compassionate care for Doris. We hope their story shows others that you can connect with loved ones and relate to them, even if they are living with dementia.”

Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson is an assisted living community with some homes dedicated to memory care. The senior living community realizes the importance of raising funds and awareness about Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. To recognize the five million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and the 16 million caregivers who attend to their needs, Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson continually supports the Alzheimer’s Association through various initiatives, including participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The team has a page set up for donations that will go towards Alzheimer’s Association and people who would like to contribute can do so by following this link:

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As people around the world recently celebrated Father’s Day, Robert McCall Jr. is looking back on the things he learned from his father throughout his life and reflecting on the importance of fatherhood. Robert McCall Sr., 93, is a resident at Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson and a former social worker from Queens, N.Y. who spent his entire life helping others. He was always the life of the party but made sure to provide for his family and spend time with his only son. After his wife’s health started to decline, he didn’t leave her side and did everything he could to provide the best care possible for her. Now, that is exactly what his son is doing for him. After McCall Jr.’s mother passed away, he realized it was his turn to care for a person who always cared for him. The relationship between McCall Jr. and Sr. is an example of how fathers’ and sons’ roles reverse as they grow older.

“Many of us don’t realize that we will all have to take care of our parents the way they took care of us,” said McCall Jr. “Caring for others is one of the most important things I learned from my father, and I am doing my best to show him just that. He has always been a big jokester, and when there was a microphone at a party I can guarantee you he had it in his hand to crack some jokes. It’s crazy to see how our ability to do things changes as we get older, and although my dad might not be dancing and joking anymore, it is so important to remember that he is still the same person who loved me and my family his entire life. Caring for him now when he needs it most is the least I can do for him.”

As a social worker, McCall Sr. helped not only children, he also helped adults with disabilities find better care and jobs. He was a dedicated worker who didn’t retire until he was 83. A fan of Alfred Hitchcock films, watching movies is one of his favorite things he used to do with his son. McCall Sr. now has three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

“Robert comes to visit his father a lot, and the bond between them is unbreakable,” said Karen Jennings, executive director of Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson. “The relationship between them is truly an inspiration to all of us. Seeing your parents change right in front of your eyes is not easy, and we are glad we can help with that process.”

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Kathy Enlow, Erica Merry, Gayle Erskine, Aaron Bor

Recently, senior residents of Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson gave back to Mother Nature by getting their green thumbs dirty in a hands-on activity. The assisted living residents and community team members gave back to the Earth by planting an interactive herb garden for the community’s memory care residents to enjoy, with herbs including mint, rosemary, basil, sage and thyme. The herbs are not only for the dining team to use when they prepare meals, tending to them can also have a calming effect on residents living with Alzheimer’s or other memory impairments. Every plant in the garden is entirely safe for ingestion. Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson chose to participate in Earth Day this year because many of their residents take pride in gardening and wanted to honor their commitment by giving back to the Earth.

“Our residents had a blast during the gardening activity. It was truly a fun afternoon, but most importantly it gave everyone a sense of purpose,” said Karen Jennings, executive director of Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson. “We believe it is important to protect the Earth and continue to plant herbs, flowers and trees.”

Working in the herb garden helps enhance memory, improve brain function and stimulate the minds of seniors living with memory impairments. In addition, spending time in a sensory garden can assist with sleeping at night, improve the appetite and boost energy levels. The residents of Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson who planted the garden for their neighbors also experienced many benefits, including mood regulation, decrease of stress and a sense of responsibility. This close-up look demonstrated how the assisted living and memory care community always creates ways to keep the residents engaged through interactive and fun activities.

“Some of our residents planted flowers or gardened as a hobby, and we’re excited to offer them another way to be outside and get their hands in the soil again. This project truly benefits our whole community,” said Jennings. “We plan to celebrate Earth Day every year because we believe it is important to raise awareness about our environment and our plants in this worldwide celebration.”

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Over the past 103 years, there have been many life-changing inventions that most people can’t imagine living without, including cell phones, e-books and computers small enough to fit in a pocket. Nola Willoughby, 103, resident at Mustang Creek Estates of Burleson, remembers the times without electricity, times when her husband worked for 50 cents a day, and times she spent searching for jobs to support her and her daughter. Willoughby was born just a few months after WWI started and grew up on a farm in Missouri before moving to Texas in 1938. LaDena Drake, Willoughby’s granddaughter, describes her as a grateful person who overcame many challenges and still maintains her positivity and faith. Today, Willoughby, who worked until the age of 71 and lived through WWI, the Great Depression, WWII, the civil rights movement and more, reflects on her life and shares advice with younger generations.

“I grew up on a farm where our family grew everything we ate, and I’ve always tried to eat healthy,” said Willoughby. “As cliché as it might sound, a healthy diet and regular exercise are the key. It is important for younger people and seniors to exercise regularly. After I retired, I used to walk with my neighbor two miles a day to a local deli for coffee. I try my best to exercise a few times a week now too.”

While Willoughby always tried to stay active, she recalls tough times over the years, especially during the 1930s. Millions of people were unemployed, and she and her family had to move around while following her husband as he went from job to job. A construction worker by trade, his employment meant the family lived in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, Missouri and Texas. Willoughby was initially a stay-at-home mother, but eventually went to work after she and her husband divorced. Most of her life she worked as a cashier in different stores and businesses. When asked if there’s anything she wanted to accomplish and never did, Willoughby said, “education.” As a child, she had to walk 2 miles to get to a schoolhouse where one teacher taught all grades, and she stopped going to school after the eighth grade.

“My grandmother is a wise woman who I have so much to learn from,” said Drake. “After my mother passed away four years ago and my father passed shortly after, we went through a very difficult time, but it made us stronger and we grew even closer. She has always been there for me and my family. She always tells me to treat everyone the way I want to be treated. “

“Although I went through some very hard periods in my life, I feel blessed every day. I think God has a purpose for me and I am here fulfilling it. I just hope I am doing it right,” said Willoughby. “I would like everyone to know that they should live their life to the fullest, take it a day at a time and always treat others with respect. Try do your best with everything you do.”

Mustang Creek Estates – whose mission is to provide seniors with high-quality residential-style assisted living and memory care at an affordable price – has additional locations in Allen, Frisco and Keller. Recently, Mustang Creek Estates opened its newest senior living community in Sachse.