Rooted in Arlington: Rose Gardens and Home

Monica grew up in the Westover neighborhood with nine siblings, just two miles away from her home at the Springs Apartments. Arlington is home to many fond memories of her childhood.

The Bon Air Park rose garden from Monica’s childhood. 

“I used to go to the Harris Teeter down the street with my dad, and I remember Hecht’s before it was a Macy’s… [and route] 66 used to just be woods.”

Many elements of her childhood home remain unchanged. Monica graduated from Washington-Liberty High School in the 80’s and finds comfort in seeing the same schools and parks still around.

After school, Monica moved to Richmond, for a new job and new adventures. She found her place at the YMCA where she was the aquatics director. Her lifelong love for swimming materialized into work she loved as she supported programming and instructed swim lessons.

Monica returned to Arlington in 2006 to take care of her aging parents, who were both sick and needed extra help. She cherished the opportunity to reconnect with her favorite mainstays of Arlington. After her parents passed, she moved around Arlington and eventually lived with three sisters in a small townhouse.

The townhouse was a comfortable living situation until Monica began enduring mobility challenges, to the point where she underwent hip replacement surgery in 2016. The many steps to enter her home and navigate it were hard on her, but she somehow made it work. After her surgery, she still had trouble with balancing and coordination which led to the discovery of a tumor on her spine. She underwent another surgery just last year, the townhouse was no longer acceptable as a living situation. The Springs Apartments was a blessing.

Living in an accessible building is a dramatic change for Monica. She no longer worries about shoveling snow in the winter and appreciates the roll-in shower. The coziness of her studio, walls adorned with photographs taken by her brother, bring her joy every day. She attends APAH’s weekly grocery distribution, located an easy elevator-ride away.

Monica has been attending physical therapy and is proud of her progress in strength and walking. Her job as a part-time medical reception is flexible which allows her to attend all her appointments. “I’m working up to a 40-hour work week,” she said. “I’ve been making a lot of progress in the past few months.”

In the meantime, she spends plenty of time outside during the nice weather. “When the weather is warm, I love visiting the rose garden in Bluemont. It’s walkable from here,” she said with a smile. During the cold months, she reads and watches movies – sometimes treating herself to a visit of the nearby theatre, located just a block away.

Her return to northern Arlington wasn’t something Monica ever expected. “This is my home,” she said confidently. “It is so peaceful and safe.”