Raymond B. Greenholtz "came home to the same woman for 65 years," until health problems sent him to one nursing home and his wife, Clara, to another.
"We were apart for six months," said the 89-year-old Mr. Greenholtz, grimacing at the painful memory.
"Raymond got homesick in a big hurry," said Mrs. Greenholtz, 85.
The couple said giving up the home they shared in Finksburg was difficult enough, but their separation was unbearable.
Now, all the trauma is behind them as they entertain visitors from their old neighborhood in the living room at Brookfield Manor.
"Would you like something to drink for you and your guests?" asks a nurse's aide.
Mr. and Mrs. Greenholtz moved back together and into the resident care facility in Middleburg shortly after it opened in March. They share a spacious bedroom -- decorated with familiar furnishings and accessories -- on the first floor of the century-old home.
"I like being on the first floor," said Mr. Greenholtz. "I really don't like the steps."
"We brought our own things, our own twin beds," said Mrs. Greenholtz.
Down the hall, Ann Treff rearranges a bouquet of fresh flowers on her dresser. "The night nurse brought them in," she says.
Mrs. Treff, 81, said she "really took over" when she moved to Brookfield from a Westminster nursing home.
"I couldn't live there and I couldn't live at home anymore," she said. "I will probably stay at this nice place for the rest of my life."
Brookfield Manor's owner smiles at the compliments.
"They are not patients," said James E. Rowe, Brookfield Manor's owner and manager. "They are residents, and this is their home."
Since opening the facility, licensed by the state for the care of hTC independent people, Mr. Rowe said he has aimed for a home-like atmosphere for its inhabitants. He designed the facility for elderly residents who can no longer live alone but don't require nursing home care.
"I know they are grieving for the loss of their own homes, and we talk about that," he said. "But I stress what they are gaining: an extended family where the staff shares a genuine interest in them."
Mr. Rowe, a registered nurse and the state regional health services coordinator for Western Maryland, renovated the seven-bedroom home. In the remodeling, he met all state requirements for domiciliary care and made Brookfield Manor handicap-accessible.
The property had been in a state of disrepair since Brookfield Manor Nursing Home closed in 1975. The owner, Phyllis Buhrman, left the estate to Thelma Rowe, who lives in a separate home on the grounds and leases the larger house to her son.
About a year ago, Mr. Rowe set to work on his vision of "a home offering sheltered housing for those who basically can help themselves."
Rates range from $1,200 a month for a semiprivate room to $2,000 for a private suite. Rooms are available on a temporary basis for respite care.
Mr. Rowe filled the restored home with antiques and period furniture, some rescued from Brookfield Manor's attic. A modernized kitchen caters to every diet, he said. Eventually, he plans to remodel an additional kitchen on the second floor.
He chats amiably with the residents, whom he monitors daily for medical problems.
He calls Mr. Greenholtz "the head of our household" and the facility's resident "cookie monster."
"Chocolate chips are my favorite," said a smiling Mr. Greenholtz. "All the food is great here and we have plenty at every meal."
Much of that food comes from Mr. Rowe's own nearby farm. Brookfield Manor residents often visit the farm. The owner also brings the smaller farm animals -- lambs, goats and rabbits -- to the house.
Mr. Greenholtz said he enjoys an occasional ride on the golf cart around Brookfield Manor's six acres.
"These are normal, productive people," said Mr. Rowe. "We don't treat them like they are old. We try to increase their activity skills and stress their independence."