Jessamine County resident finds home in Cedarhurst

Published 2:01 pm Monday, May 20, 2024

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In December 2022, lifelong Jessamine County resident Bill Cox moved into Cedarhurst of Nicholasville, an assisted living community. 

He’s now Cedarhurst’s official resident Ambassador. He loves to garden, help the kitchen team grill on warm days, and converse with other residents and Cedarhurst employees. He even grows his mint to make a special Mint Julep syrup into drinks for his Cedarhurst neighbors during derby seasons. 

Bill is an Air Force veteran and a lover of music. He sang in a Lexington barbershop group for 56 years, and he also sang in a church quartet. His wife, Esther Cox, also enjoyed singing in groups. 

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Bill’s late life partner, Esther Cox, was a huge part of his life. Esther moved into Cedarhurst with Bill in October 2023. The couple met in high school at a ballgame in Jessamine County. When trying to catch a foul ball, Bill fell into Esther’s lap. The two were strangers, but the minute they locked eyes, Bill said aloud: “You’re gonna be my wife.” 

The next day, Bill walked from rural Jessamine County to Fayette County. He walked 18 miles in the rain to see Esther again. After seven or eight dates, Esther asked Bill, “Are you still sure about me being your wife?” and Bill responded, “Would I have walked all those miles in the rain if I wasn’t?”

After three attempts to ask Esther’s father for her hand in marriage, Bill finally got Esther’s father’s blessing. 

Bill said the two had a long, beautiful life together, with three children and eleven grandchildren spread throughout the country. When the couple was in their 30s, and Bill was working for IBM, the two decided they wanted land in Jessamine County from Bill’s uncle’s farm. Bill and Esther wanted to leave their kids with land and wanted to be back in Jessamine County.

The two had a beautiful life on the farm, “just the way we wanted,” Bill said. This included a vegetable garden. Bill had even created a system so he wouldn’t need to get off his tractor to pull crops from their fields. As he was already in a wheelchair, this was tantamount to him being able to work on the garden.

“I hated to sell our home. We lived on that Jessamine County farm for 54 years. That was home. [We] had everything just like we wanted it. Everything was perfect just like how Esther wanted it, really. She wanted a white fence. We had a white fence. We had a big garden. It had everything. We had the corn, the beans, okra, everything. Squashes and beans of every kind.” Bill said.

Around six years ago, as the couple began to approach age 90, Esther’s dementia got worse. Bill stepped up to help her. “It was so bad that I stepped up and I told her ‘I’ll do the cooking, the washing of the clothes, the grocery shopping,’ I said ‘all you gotta tell me is how to cook and I’ll be fine.’ I was already grilling all the time. I got to the point where I was pretty good. I could make some baby back ribs, mashed potatoes, [and] green beans. I did chicken and dumplings. Brown beans and cornbread with fried potatoes and stuff of that nature.” 

When looking for an assisted living facility, Bill kept seeing Cedarhurst being constructed and waited until construction was finished so he could grab a spot where Esther could soon join him. For a few months, the two lived together at Cedarhurst. 

If Esther were still alive, the two would have been married for 72 years. Esther passed away in February of this year. Cedarhurst held a memorial for Esther to see her off.

“We got to where we could answer each other’s sentences and finish them. We had a wonderful life together. Marriage was the least of my worries until I fell in her lap. When I saw her, I said ‘you’re gonna be my wife,’” Bill said, reflecting on his long, happy life with Esther.

His favorite part about Cedarhurst is “meeting people. There’s something about knowing people and having friends. The staff here is also so good. That’s really a big point I think because anybody can go up to anybody and talk to them if they need to.” Cox said. Once a month, Cedarhurst also hosts community meetings so that residents can speak with staff and give suggestions on community changes. 

Since spring has just started, flowers are blossoming around Cedarhurst with the help of the facility’s activities’ coordinator and residents like Bill. Residents planted flowers in flower beds around the building. 

“The activity lady here is really a jewel as far as knowing what to do and how to keep people busy. Autumn is her name,” Bill said.

In addition to the group gardening that goes on, Bill has his flowers on his patio, too. He has his own hydrangeas which color the courtyard. 

“This is not a nursing home, it’s a living community. If people get sick here, you have to go to the hospital. We do however have a doctor who comes here. This place here is great. We got good food, and good staff and everyone here is a brother or sister. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, they’ll take us out. You can go to the hospital or dentist. Every Wednesday we have a trip. They’ll put us on a bus to Walmart, the Dollar Tree, Lexington, or a restaurant. We got to go to Versailles for the pumpkin patch. That was nice, too.” Bill said. “You’re taken care of here.”