Glennon Place resident shares his story

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Ivan Mullen, 85, sits in front of the bird enclosure in the lobby of Glennon Place. He says it's his favorite spot in the home. Andi Enns

There’s one thing Glennon Place resident Ivan Muller thinks people should know about him.

“I drink a beer every day, after dinner,” he says.

He says his doctor prescribed beer to him as an alternative to heart medication. Glennon Place’s official policies, however, prohibit alcohol on the premises.

His favorite thing about living at Glennon Place Nursing Home, 128 N. Hardesty, is when a volunteer named Eddie Oyer comes in to play piano.

“I’ve known Eddie for a really long time,” Mullen, 85, says.

In fact, Mullen has known lots of the residents, volunteers and staff members for a long time – he’s spent his entire life living in the Historic Northeast.

“I was born at 17th and Topping in my parent’s home,” he says. “When I grew up, I rented a house a few blocks away.”

He lived here for years with his wife and daughter and made his living repairing toasters.

“I’ve only had eight jobs my whole life,” Mullen says. “And I was never fired.”

Only two jobs really stick out to Mullen, and he says he left both because of management changes.

“I worked at one repair shop for 10 years,” he says. “Then, it got sold to an undertaker. He didn’t know a thing about business.”

He says he retired in 1955, partially due to his weak heart and partially because he didn’t like his boss. Mullen spent his time with his family and attending services at Holy Cross.

One day in the 1960s, his landlord called and offered to sell the house to him. Mullen says he told the landlord, “Of course.”

The house cost him $5,500. He says the mortgage payments were high: $54 per month. He says he was happy when his wife, Mary Ann, received an inheritance that allowed them to pay off the house less than 10 years after signing the papers.

Mullen and his wife lived there for over 50 years of marriage, before her declining health made her move to Glennon Place nearly a decade ago. After she moved in, Mary Ann and Mullen participated in volunteering at Northeast Senior Center, wrapping silverware for their meal service. It was a good way to pass the time, he says.

“We were watching TV together when the nurse came in and said Mary Ann had a doctor’s appointment,” Mullen says. “I went with her, like I always did, but the doctor asked me to step out of the room.”

Mullen paused and took a deep breath.

“The doctor told me she had cancer,” he says. “She had less than a year to live.”

He says his wife’s health was worsening every day. He spent a lot of time with her at Glennon Place, watching television with her and getting to know her neighbors. One day, just a few weeks after Mary Ann’s diagnosis, they were cuddling and watching a show together.

“She died in my arms,” Mullen says. “But I got to hold her.”

In 2006, Mullen moved into Glennon Place himself.

“I chose Glennon because I already knew everyone,” Mullen says. “I knew they would treat me fine and that I liked the activities.”

He says he was popular from the first day.

“My first day as a resident, a lady asked me to marry her,” Mullen says. “I said, ‘No.’ She’s my girlfriend now, though.”

And if you go to Glennon Place, you’ll see them together in the lobby, watching the birds in the big glass enclosure.

He says he used to go on a lot of the field trips to Wal-Mart, the casino and other places. He doesn’t anymore because of his health, he says. Mullen still enjoys playing bingo, listening to church services and hearing the morning news.

He says he likes to visit his daughter in her Northeast home. He also enjoys visits from his granddaughter and two great-grandchildren.

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