So now, as her 93-year-old father, Ted Ostradick, confronts the growing infirmities and challenges of life, Janet is devoted to finding every opportunity for him to be comfortable, active, and safe.
“Dad used to live just around the corner from The Little Red House, and when it was first recommended that he come there, well, to be honest, he was not entirely enthusiastic,” remembers Janet. “He kept saying that it was a place for old people, and he was only 91 at the time. But once he got past that little perception problem and started attending, he’s gone from three days a week to five days every week. He’s discovered it’s just what he needs to keep his mind and body engaged, and it’s been a Godsend for both of us.”
Soon after Ted began spending his days at The Little Red House, he moved from his Spring Lake residence into an assisted living center in Fruitport. Now Ted cheerfully rides The Little Red House bus each morning and Janet picks him up after completing her work day at Herman Miller’s Spring Lake campus.
The son of Czech immigrants, Ted grew up in Muskegon Heights, attending Sacred Heart Catholic School and working as an altar boy at the church. He showed an early aptitude for repairing bikes in his garage and picking celery in the celery flats around Mona Lake. He had limited patience for high school and dropped out to join the U.S. Navy, serving on the USS Wadleigh (DD-689) during World War II.
Even now, Ted enjoys regaling his fellow participants at The Little Red House with stories of his past.
“He loves to reminisce about his time in the military and then returning home to good jobs in factories around Muskegon,” Janet says.
Ted had held a number of production positions at Continental Aviation, Sealed Power, and at Brunswick before he finally retired in 1992.
Janet recounts that Ted and her mom enjoyed taking bus trips to such destinations as the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn or he homespun craft mecca of Shipshewana, Indiana, before her mother’s death in 2001. But since then, he’s been living on his own and gradually began showing signs of needing additional help and social engagement.
After conferring with the Veterans’ Administration, it was suggested that Ted could benefit from spending time at The Little Red House.
“He’s a positive person, and still a go-getter,” says Janet.
“He has a good disposition, and since he started coming to The Little Red House about a year and a half ago, he’s had regular exercise, a good lunch every day, and he’s made lots of friends.
“My dad’s not the oldest one at The Little Red House,” she continues, “but it’s a big range of ages. And it’s not just an adult day care—it really is an activity center. It keeps his mind going.”
Since Janet comes by to collect her dad each day, she’s gotten well acquainted with the staff at The Little Red House. “They are compassionate and courteous, treating everyone with respect,” she says. “It really helps me have peace of mind. It’s a matter of trust. I have confidence in them and how they treat my dad and all the other participants. I don’t know what I’d do without them.”
As for Ted, he gladly reports that his time at The Little Red House is the best part of his day.
“I just get along with everybody, with no disagreements at all,” he says. “We are always busy, keeping things going. And, brother, that’s a good thing—to keep busy and get along with everybody.”
And, Ted adds, the staff makes his morning coffee “exactly the way I like it.”