The neighborhood is expansive. On yesterday’s stroll, I saw a business friend whose husband died less than a month ago. I didn’t know. I waved to her outside her office window and she grabbed her coat to come out to meet me. We went back to her office where she spent an hour and a half telling me what his last days were like. She cried a lot and I cried a little, at the conclusion of our conversation we laughed at life’s irony.
Mrs. Whitcomb lives in subsidized housing. She’s 83. She survived the Nazi labor camps when she was 14. She and her parents moved to the United States after the war ended. Her accent is still pretty strong. I see her making slow laps around the building she lives in. She’s gradually increasing her range after a cardiac “event” a month or so ago. When I meet her, I decelerate to match her pace so we can talk. Her feminine vanity is very much intact. She’s frustrated that she’s been stalled by her health.
Wade lives just up the street from Mrs. Whitcomb. He has advanced stage cancer but has continued to work, as often as possible, up until about a month ago when he underwent a complicated, and painful, stem cell transplant. Right now he is home in isolation because his immune system is severely compromised. His siblings have taken turns staying with him. The lights behind his curtains are reassuringly optimistic so I look forward to seeing him once the outside world is released from quarantine.
The new people with the chickens live around the corner from Wade. I am hugely entertained by the chickens. They roam free all over the neighborhood. I’ve heard some complaints but a quick explanation that the new people have a relaxed view of life but they’re very personable seems to calm the waters. They have an adolescent boy, who has a couple of sidekicks with him constantly. The kids are almost as entertaining as the chickens. They’re at that in between stage. Last winter in the snow, they were sliding so fast down a steep hill that I thought surely they’d wind up in the drink. They’re good, polite kids who said to me, “This may not be the brightest thing to do but it sure is fun!” You can’t beat the logic in that.
There are a couple of young families with small children in the neighborhood too. I like to see and talk with the little kids. One of the mothers is so pretty inside that it just beams out of her, her smile illuminates the world. They got a good deal on a dilapidated house with a pond and a stream and have worked their tails off renovating it. It’s lovely.
My Republican neighbor lives around the bend from me. He is a funny, well meaning man. His wife has a trendy hair style and an interesting flair for fashion. Their property is heavily posted with “No Trespassing” signs. Obviously, we do not have the same approach to life’s challenges but we have more in common than you’d imagine. His mother died several years ago. While she was alive, and before he’d improved his property, she liked to visit and sit in a lawn chair by the water. As he cleared the brush away and installed a dock with a platform he told me, “I know my mother comes here because she enjoyed it so much. When my wife and I sit down here in the evenings we can feel her with us.”
My heart skips and frolics with happiness at the common concerns that unite my neighborhood. I am confident that any of us could call on the others for help and help would be there in a big hurry. We represent a hodge-podge of socio-economic backgrounds with vastly different experiences but we coexist in harmony.