Saturday, February 23, 2013

Watching out for each other

We leave Tucson in five days. I've said the first of my goodbyes with a promise to be back next year. But I've been seeing this RV resort a little differently in the last couple of weeks, as our departure approached.

Lots of physical activity, as much as I want. Swimming, walking, dancing. Lots of mental activity, also as much as I want. Discussion groups about current events and about foreign policy. Conversations with people of varying political opinions. And lots of social activity, as much as I want. Dinners with new friends, outings with people I've known for years, dances with groups.

At this resort, we're all ages from 55 up. Some of us are even younger, if we live with someone who's 55. Some of us are in our 80s or even 90s. We are a community, a neighborhood. And we watch out for each other. The staff is here to serve us, their customers. They are not here to take care of us.  

Yesterday I was picking up the mail and a much older woman smiled at me and started talking about the weather. Always a good starter topic, but especially since it snowed here three days ago. I smiled and listened. And the day before yesterday we were reading the "park models for sale" ads on the bulletin board. An older man said, "See anything interesting?" Then he pointed at one of the ads. "That's my place. Want to take a look? I have the key with me." So we did. We walked three blocks with the man and looked at his park model. Beautiful little place, very clean, very inexpensive. We actually considered it, even though we're not looking to buy. It was such a nice little place, and the man wanted us to buy it. He told us he had lived in it with his wife, but he was a widower now and lives with his "lady friend".

Three Sundays ago, we were walking home and came upon an older couple who'd left the church service early because the man wasn't feeling well. He thought he might be coming down with the flu so said he was going to lie down. I felt a twinge of concern, but didn't think much more about it until today. On the community bulletin board was an announcement of a "celebration of life" being held this afternoon for a man. I'm almost sure the last name was the same as the one on the sign in front of the house the couple went into that Sunday. When we went by this afternoon, a car was stopped in front of the park model, and a woman was coming down the stairs. I thought she might have dropped off a casserole for a new widow. But again, I'm not sure.

In this place, people watch out for each other. Like in a neighborhood at home where people aren't gone to work all day. Like maybe they used to, in places we lived in when we were younger, or when we lived in small towns instead of cities and suburbs.

I talked yesterday to the woman who leads my swimming class. She was using the resort's wifi when we were leaving the cafe after breakfast. I hardly recognized her with her street clothes on! I told her we were leaving next week and she said, "I will miss you, Linda. I hope you'll be back next year." I said we would. 

Art and I are beginning to think about where we want to live when we get older. In the house where we raised our kids? In a smaller place closer to public transportation? In a 55-plus community or an independent living facility? Someplace else?

I want to live in a place that's a community, where we watch out for each other. So we'll be coming back to Tucson, to this winter neighborhood.  For the rest of the year? Time will tell, I guess.

23 comments:

Lynilu said...

Having that sense of community is important, wherever we are. Even if you don't know names, it's nice to know faces and know they know yours. When I drive to and from work I exchange waves with whoever is out and about. I might not know their names, but in a pinch, I'd be able to approach the house without worry.

Janette said...

Sounds like you have solved half the year.
I hope you have excellent luck with the rest of the years.
Safe travels!

Retired English Teacher said...

Come live by me. Our community is much like the one you describe as far as being a place where there are those around who watch after each other. We are all over 55, or so, I think. We are a pretty congenial group. We don't have the type of activities you describe, or even a club house, but we are quite happy here. It is nice to have neighbors who are out and about and friendly. It is nice not to be intertwined. So far, we really like our little village.

Linda Reeder said...


we have lived here in this house for almost 35 years. Some neighbors have come and gone, some have remained. We know a few of them but aren't really close to any of them. I don't know that we have that sense of community, but much of that may have to do with my introverted personality. I suspect "community" is there for those who seek it.

Terra said...

It's interesting to hear about where you are staying, how you will leave in a week, and probably return next year. Moving is a big deal, isn't it, and a lot of work so you are wise to think about these aspects of where you prefer to live.

EasyKoreanFood said...
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Arkansas Patti said...

You really make a great case for retirement communities. Especially with the "as much as I want" option.
My little town has the caring, just not all the neat activities. Dividing your year sounds perfect. I guess what will tell is how much you miss Arizona when you leave.
I'd also check out an Arizona summer before making a move.

Olga said...

We also have a 55+ park here (FL). I do not take advantage of all the opportunities. I prefer to exercise on my own, I don't play cards, we socialize with one or two couples at a time and avoid the dinners and such at the club house for the most part. I am as involved as I care to be. There is a sense of community--along with political machinations and cliques. A bit like high school, actually. i am in it for the weather.

Tom Sightings said...

Sounds like you've found a very comfortable place for yourself ... despite the winter snowstorm.

DJan said...

My sister's 55-and-older community in Florida is similar and has a very different winter and summer group of people. The snowbirds are thick and everything is crowded in the winter, but in the summertime she feels like she owns the entire place. The year-rounders are very much like a community, too. Plenty to do as well.

I'm so glad you've found a place to spend the long winter days in sunshine! :-)

Muffy's Marks said...

Its like that here too!! I feel I have the best of both worlds. We have our little cottage in the woods and can come to Arizona for the winter. Perfect, until our health deems otherwise!!!

Ms Sparrow said...

How nice it is to have someone tell you that you will be missed. It really makes you feel like you have made a difference!

#1Nana said...

Last week I attended a memorial service for my uncle. He and my aunt lived in a 55+ community. The service was packed with their neighbors. After the service the friends from the community provided the lunch for family and close friends at the house. I saw them making dates with my aunt to get her out of the house. They watch out for each other. You are lucky to have found a place that you enjoy...but I have to admit that I'm glad you live within driving distance for our blogging retreats! Drive safely and happy travels!

Perpetua said...

This congenial way of living obviously suits you and I can see why it's making you think about the future, Linda.

Speaking entirely personally I can't imagine anything DH and I would be less likely to do than to live in a retirement community, which are in any case very rare in the UK. We've spent almost 40 years in a house with no near neighbours and it suits us. The few neighbours on our hill are mixed in age and background and though we're all friendly when we happen to meet we never socialise.

Wherever we are, for the great majority of the time we are entirely happy just with each other's company and the rest of the time we spend with family and close friends. It's a good thing we're all different...... :-)

Friko said...

As you have probably gathered from my posts we live in a small village away from busy towns. We have all the community spirit we want but on top of that we also have all ages. I would find it difficult to live in a place where everyone is old, no matter how jolly and active.

Having said all that I admit that I do miss larger towns and their amenities and when the day comes that I won’t be able to drive anymore I shall feel very cut off here.

Galen Pearl said...

If you want to take a quick detour off the highway on your way back, maybe we could meet for lunch or tea/coffee! Let me know. I live very close to I-5. In any event, safe travels home.

Bob Lowry said...

While I was visiting with you and Art last week I really sensed how much you had adapted to the park. You were so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the place, I joked to Betty that you could become a paid spokesperson for them.

The idea of a community that watches out and cares for each other is something most suburban areas in America are missing. I'm so happy you have found a place that fills that need for you.

Actually, I think I'm envious!

MyMaracas said...

I have lived in close communities. I have mixed feelings about it; on the one hand, it's a comfort to watch out for each other, but on the other hand there is a sense of always being watched, talked about. Maybe judged.

I love living where we do, in a big place that's rather isolated in the country. But I know we will have to leave someday, when it becomes too much to handle. I too have begun, reluctantly, to leave behind the certainty of this as my "forever home" and to consider where we will live next.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Our neighborhood has a block watch and its something we joined right after moving in. We still haven't been to a single meeting though. Maybe we should change that this month and meet some neighbors. With busy lives of work and committments it is tough to make the time to get to know the people we live in close proximity to. So sorry that someone in your winter community passed away. Overall though it sounds like you had a great time in Tucson! Hopefully the sunny days got you through the hump and you'll return to sun in your hometown.

rosaria williams said...

We truly lucked out when we moved to the Oregon coast, in this small town where everyone seems to know everyone.

What I miss are my children who live three hours for my daughter and fourteen for my son. Everything else is immaterial!
As our health deteriorates we'll probably move close to one or the other, and close to good medical facilities.

wheels4me said...

What a great experience in community living!

Barbara Torris said...

This shared experience we have is wonderful. I loved reading about your life in the RV resort because I is what I have experienced for several years.

I know you noticed as we were visiting yesterday how people stopped by or waved as they went down the street. The new porch is all the buzz in the park and our friends have followed it's progress with so much interest. The fact that we not only "know" each other but also truly care is what this life is all about.

Thank you for this post Linda. It made me smile.

b+

Dee said...

Dear Linda, this has truly been a learning experience for you and it sounds as if it will serve you well as you and Art make some important and life-changing decisions in the future. One thing I really remember about your postings recently is how you've been able to use your mediating skills there. No wonder everyone wants you to come back. Peace.