Back when my husband and I lived on Silverhorn Drive, there was a two-foot deep concrete-lined drainage trough edging our lawn that I would step into from time to time in order to trim the overhanging rosemary bushes to add to a floral arrangement. On one of these occasions, thinking I was 16 again, I thought I could simply give myself a boost instead of walking to a spot where I could easily step up onto the lawn.

Bad decision. In mid-air my body plopped backward onto concrete. Feeling no pain, I started to get up and try again. Second bad decision. I tried to raise my leg and felt excruciating pain.

It was a Sunday afternoon, neighbors were away, my husband was in the second floor den watching a football game, and I had no cell phone. As I lay still pondering my predicament, I saw my neighbor across the street come out of her house and walk to her car. I called to her. After looking high, then low for the source of the voice, she saw me and came to my rescue. 

When we moved to San Antonio 12 years ago for a quiet retirement following careers in New York and Florida, this wasn’t quite what we had in mind. After successful surgery on a broken hip by Dr. Christopher Phelps, who congratulated me on the clean break, at Methodist Stone Oak Hospital, my husband George suggested two things: that I put a florist on speed dial, and that we find a one-story home. 

After searching for a couple of months, early one morning I saw an online ad for a house in Redland Heights. We called our realtor and raced over to see the house. We opened the door to a long living room, wood floors, high ceilings, big and tall windows. As an interior designer, I saw that the open floor plan left no good place for TV watching, but installing French doors between the living room and a bedroom would create a snug TV room. The yard could be viewed as either a disaster or, as our utility man described it, a great opportunity. It was both. 

My husband decided that the first thing the yard needed was a flagstone walk. It would run the length of the narrow back porch, continue across the back and one side of the house to the gate near the front of the house, then a short span would continue to connect with the driveway. It transformed the grounds and added to our appreciation of our new residence. We’re restoring the grass and adding bushes and shrubs over time with the help of our landscaper Sue Norton. 

The best thing about our Redland Heights house is its ideal location. We have absolutely no traffic problems. How many in San Antonio can say that with a straight face? We are 10-15 minutes from H-E-B, Costco, and Walmart. There’s a Whataburger where we have our table (as we did in a fancy New York restaurant) for a quick lunch when grocery shopping. The employees know our names, and we can just say “our usual” and get it. 

The Whataburger at Redland Heights Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

When we meet friends like June and Jay Cho (parents of John Cho of Star Trek fame) for lunch or dinner, it’s La Hacienda, just a few blocks to the north of us on Redland Road. When our son was home from Afghanistan, family and friends met there. We and our friends love the architecture, the patio, and the delicious food. And no restaurant has a more delightful host than Diana Barrios Treviño. She makes everyone feel like treasured family. 

We are 15 minutes from all our doctors. We’re in our 80s, so this is important. Nearby is our favorite hospital, Methodist Stone Oak, which has been our home away from home these past five years. It is so much so that when we were house hunting, we asked about building a penthouse condo atop the hospital. That query was met with laughter. I was only half joking.

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As for our gated community, we are surrounded by gracious people. Some like my husband are former military. A favorite neighbor was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. Some were combat soldiers and are probably well armed against any possible intruders, so I sleep soundly feeling well protected. 

Our next door neighbor, Joan Courtney, is president of Lighthouses of Prayer International. This non-denominational women’s organization encourages neighborhood meetings for united prayer. We meet at Joan’s home one evening each month and each woman is free to participate in heartfelt prayer. 

Ten minutes east of our community is Bulverde Road with Milberger’s Nursery. Forget parks, we prefer a stroll through Milberger’s, admiring the bougainvillea, gorgeous roses, plumbago, crape myrtles, and lantana. We can drive a block to H-E-B for a delicious brisket sandwich afterward, then drop into the Goodwill for a treasure hunt. These adventures make for an ideal Saturday. 

We can think of nowhere in San Antonio that better suits our needs. The Pearl would be fun and, with its hustle and bustle, more like New York City, which we loved. But I’m an easily distracted author, so my productivity would decline. Plus, our doctors wouldn’t move with us. So here we are, happily at home in quiet and lovely Redland Heights. 

Patricia Hart McMillan is co-author of Old Places New Spaces: Preserving, Remodeling, Decorating San Antonio Style, Home Decorating For Dummies, and several other home design books.