For Betty Miller, Home Is Full of Memories — And Life Is Full of Friends and Fun

In 2005, Betty Miller hired a moving company to pack up her Menlo Park condo and move her to Vi at Palo Alto. She’d even disconnected the phone in the condo and transferred her number to the new apartment.

The morning the movers arrived to take her boxes away, however, Miller stopped them. “I started to cry and said, ‘I’m not ready to leave all these memories behind! So they unpacked everything, and I stayed.’” Miller said. “It was the first time in 35 years that had ever happened to the moving company.”

Miller’s husband, Orv, died of cancer over a decade ago. She was living alone in their three-level, 2,500-square-foot condominium years after that first attempt to move out, and someone tried to break in. “That really got my thinking cap on,” Miller said. “It was time to find an environment where I could feel safe and life was just fun all the time.”

She found that environment at Vi at Palo Alto. “When you move into a place like this, everyone is in the same boat. I’ve been welcomed with open arms,” she said.

Making Room For It All
Downsizing to her 920-square-foot Mendocino apartment at Vi at Palo Alto was a huge change. Miller says a decorator recommended leaving some of her favorite furniture items behind, but she was convinced that she could find a home for everything she loved. 

“A friend and I got a tape measure and brought it in to measure the rooms,” Miller said. “We decided if we walked sideways, it would all fit. It’s very comfy and cozy in here!”

She describes the apartment’s style as “shabby chic”; it’s filled with items that remind her of life with her husband of 43 years. She ultimately kept only the things that were most sentimental to her, including a custom-made armoire she commissioned for her husband, as well as a well-loved sectional that she’s covered with matching canvas slipcovers.

Remembering Life In Paris
Many of the items in Miller’s apartment made their way back to the West Coast from Paris, where she and Orv lived for three years during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

The most special item of all is a dining room table, covered in candlewax and speckled with red wine stains. Miller’s late husband made it by hand from supplies he bought at a Parisian hardware store, and it brings back fond memories of being “the party family” throughout their married life. 

“Orv wasn’t very handy,” Miller said. “But he somehow built this wonderful table…it’s so special to me.” Chairs the Millers purchased in Paris provide seating around the table for friends who visit today.

Living Life At Vi — And Away From It
Day to day, Miller’s life is filled to the brim with social engagements, volunteer efforts, church activities and physical fitness. “I’m just busy 24/7, it seems!” Miller said. “Every day brings something new.”

Miller meets four mornings a week with a fitness group she’s been part of for 20 years. After a good work out and walking a mile-and-a-half, the group enjoys the fresh air before the Silicon Valley morning rush hour begins. After her walks, she returns to Vi and usually meets with friends for coffee. “We giggle and tell jokes and solve the problems of the world,” she said. 

For Miller, transitioning to life at Vi at Palo Alto has been both a huge change and no different at all from the life she knew. She looks back on the past with great fondness, but her focus is on the present.

“A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about my husband 30 times a day,” Miller said. “But I have a wonderful and exciting life now — I bless every day that I wake up here.”

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