Strangers

Although tomorrow is Father’s Day, we don’t expect many calls from our six children.  My three children may remember David, his three probably won’t.  David is not very close to his children, the sad result of a bitter divorce.  My daughter and her daughters have known David as a father and loved him, but these days they are busy with their own lives so we don’t see them as often as we once did.  

I suppose I was spoiled for a long time because my daughter lived 10 minutes away and I saw her at least once a week. Now she is two hours away.  That might not seem like a far distance, but a day trip down to the farm and back is difficult given some of our age-related infirmities.

As we age in place in our urban neighborhood, various long-time neighbors are moving away to be near grandchildren or children. The most recent potential move is David’s friend Mel. At 86, Mel is a mere three years older, and like a brother to David who has no living siblings.  Mel’s children are coaxing him to leave the home where he and his wife have lived for 50 years.  Mel doesn’t want to leave, but his wife has Alzheimer’s and he cannot care for her any longer.   

The older children of some of the seniors we have known remain in the houses they occupied with their elder parents before they died.  Our neighbor Mary two houses away is an example.  Mary was born in the house where she lives and she works at our local grocery store. Mary and her husband lived with Mary’s mother before she died. When David shops for groceries, Mary walks around with him and helps him locate various “hard to find items” like carrot juice and flax oil.   

Our neighborhood was lower-middle class and a more humble location, a mere 30 years ago when David and I returned from living in Fairfax County. Since then, many of  the older couples have been dissolved by death and the newly single partners sold up and left owing to the property taxes.  The number of never married government girls recruited during WWII is growing fewer every year.  The newer families replacing these seniors are more up market so the neighborhood is gentrifying slowly. Where small bungalows once sat, huge houses reminiscent of Victoriana now reign. 

Our neighborhood is a protected under a historic covenant so any ‘new’ houses must look “old.”  Below is a photo I took a week or so ago.  I don’t know if this is a restored house or a new one. because it sits on a back street I don’t often travel.  It could be either as our neighborhood boasts a number of houses over 100 years old.  One thing is certain.  The older person who lived there is gone.

  

8 thoughts on “Strangers

  1. My neighborhood has changed considerably with virtually none of those couples we knew still here. Next door neighbor was eventually moved by her adult children to San Diego retirement community nearer to them; others have died, moved away — newer adults are childless, several young roommates, a gay couple — others who clearly don’t respond to neighborly interaction — just a disconnected neighborhood now.

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  2. I hear you on the father’s day thing. Or any celebratory day. We don’t get cards from our daughter. Nor a phone call. Lately, I’ve been doing the same with her. A bit hurtful, but I figure she’s too busy to send a card and doesn’t need any extra stuff in her house.

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  3. Wow! That is an amazing house. We built on to my mom’s house to take care of her, but I wonder what we will do when we’re older. Our kids live on the mainland, so would we eventually move back there? I don’t know…

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  4. The residents of our half of our circle have changed. Of the families who lived here when we arrived in 1970, still in residence are two couples, the surviving spouse of third couple and my husband and me. The new young couples and singles are still in the extremely modest income brackets, and it is wonderful to see homes that had been standing empty for awhile filled with young families and singles who are good neighbors.

    It seems like the neighborhood has more entrepreneurs in the occupational mix and more singles than when we arrived as young marrieds. But relative income and age ranges seem the same for newcomers as in 1970. The long-time residents are 60- and 70-somethings. That is different. With the exception of one couple, the elders were only a decade or two older than the younger residents when we moved here. Several died of catastrophic illnesses at relatively young ages. Others moved away to be near children. No matter who lives in their homes, I still think of the houses as the homes of the couples who owned them when we first moved here.

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    • We still think of houses as “Bridget’s house” (she and Ennio moved away 10 years ago); or “Mrs Culbert’s house” (she entered a nursing home 15 years ago; or “The General’s House” (he left several years ago, and so on and so forth.

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  5. I am glad that the house I live in is a one story building. I couldn’t manage climbing stairs every day. My neighborhood used to be inhabited by military families, but for some reason, it is now populated by a lot of immigrants who pay for the expensive houses by pooling their money as an extended family.

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