I’m sitting in my office with the fireplace going, looking out my window as snow gently falls. It is a beautiful but cold Sunday afternoon, and the perfect day to quietly reflect on matters.

Last week, I had to move my aging father into a memory care facility. This decision was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make, especially given the current COVID environment. Long-term care facilities cannot allow visitors due to the risks of transmitting the virus to their residents. So, I knew that once I moved him, it may be months before I could see him again. There is a part of me that understands and accepts this. Yet, I must wonder if that is the right thing to do; these people have moved into these facilities because they have reached the end of life. Is it better to withhold the love, companionship, and reassurance gained from their family members and loved ones, or keep them safe and isolated to protect them from getting sick, which could lead to an earlier but inevitable end of life? It would be interesting to know how these residents, if they were of sound mind, would answer this question.

My dad was a career Marine, then after he retired, went on to complete his PhD in Economics from the University of Florida. He would proudly tell you that he is a Gator Fan for life! He was a tenured professor at the University of North Texas until health issues caused him to retire in 2006. He fought for our country during the Vietnam War, and is the recipient of a Purple Heart. Can you tell I am proud of him?

Just a month or so ago, I decided to take him to a park that we recently completed in Oklahoma City. If you have ever lived with someone that suffers from dementia and/or Alzheimer’s, you know that every day is different. There are good days for them, and there are not-so-good days. This was a good day!

Manuel Perez Park - Oklahoma City


Manuel Perez Park had their groundbreaking ceremony on Veterans Day, November 11. This is a very special park that honors the life and sacrifice of Oklahoma City native Manuel Perez Jr, who earned the Medal of Honor for his bravery and sacrifice during WWII. There is a Memorial Plaza that is dedicated to every Oklahoman who earned the Medal of Honor, but in reality, it is a beautiful tribute to all soldiers, because anyone who serves this country is a hero!

As we walked slowly throughout the park, I told him all about the items included in this park that Happy Playgrounds was a part of. I showed him the playground structure, the soft surfacing underneath it, the pavilions, and even the site amenities. I sat with him in the bench swing and explained the process of a project from bidding to completion as he gained great enjoyment from watching the children playing. He listened. He told me it was a “very nice place”. As we were driving home, I asked him what his favorite part of the park was, and he replied, “What park? Am I going to a park?”

                  Construction Phase                               Completed Swings

If you haven’t visited Manuel Perez Park, I encourage you to do so. It was a pleasure to work with W.L. McNatt & Co, the general contractors, as well as Planning Design Group, the landscape architects.


We provided and installed (8) shelters by Americana Building Products, our amazing supplier. The large gathering area includes a 70x38 pavilion with a Spanish tile roof—this is beautiful! Along with that, we installed a Hexagon pavilion next to the playground, and it too, has a Spanish tiled roof. Then scattered throughout the park, you will find 6 trellis styled pergolas. Under one of these, we installed 2 bench swings which allow visitors to relax as they watch their children play. The playground area includes the Playworld Bambino, a multi-sensory playground that provides perceived risk with safe and fun activities. In addition, you will find swings, climbers, and music. I am so proud of the work we did here.