Many of my Medicare friends are moving or contemplating moving to retirement communities. A big one close to my town is called Rossmoor. It’s a huge gated community built back in the sixties and contains 6700 residential units surrounded by open space. At least one resident in each unit must be at least fifty-five years old.
People buy their patio home, which entitles them to use the two golf courses, the indoor swimming pool, and all the Rossmoor amenities. There are 200 clubs within the gates. One woman said it was like living on a cruise ship without the water.
The residents don’t do any yard work. They might have some potted plants to water, but that’s it. I’ve been to many an estate sale in Rossmoor, back when I had a shop and a realtor friend turned estate liquidator would call and invite me to come shop. Maybe because of pawing through those homes where people had lived out their lives do I have such an aversion to living there.
I bought an old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook at one of the Rossmoor sales for $5.00. It was in excellent shape with colored food photos from the fifties. When I got it to my shop and opened it up, three dozen love letters and flower shop cards fell out of it. They were all from George, written to Esther. It was a whirlwind romance while George was stationed overseas and Esther waited at home in the states.
George was a smooth-talking soldier. His words would sound corny to today’s men, but I could see why Esther fell for him. “My dearest darling, I can’t wait until my eyes once again take in your lovely golden locks framing your sweet and gentle face . . .” Every tiny card sent with a dozen roses or whatever was certainly how George won her over.
I spent the afternoon in my antique shop reading their love story. I put a price tag on the cookbook and took the letters home. A few years later after I had closed my shop, gotten divorced, and moved, I came across the love letters again. I was sure that Esther had outlived George and had kept them in her cookbook for safe keeping. But it was time to let the love letters go. I listed them on Etsy for $25.00, telling their embellished story in the item description. Sure enough, someone bought them, and George’s letters got shipped out.
I wonder if Esther ever answered him. Where were her love letters to him? Had they kept him going through the war? Had she buried him with her letters tucked inside his suit vest? Or had Esther gone first? It was a thing to ponder.
Saturday morning, after I’d let in my contractor to work on the kitchen remodel, and after he’d run back home to get something he’d forgotten, I went out to get the morning mail. A pick-up truck hurried down my court and parked in the spot the contractor had just vacated. Then an SUV pulled up behind the truck.
Oh, no! The neighbors must be having a gathering. At 9:00 on a Saturday morning? I got my keys and moved my Prius into the street so the contractor would have a place to park his big truck if it turned out to be a party.
My neighbors have three little girls, ages 7, 5, and two. Their dad is a party animal, with his yearly slip and slide event on the hill in the park, and his friends coming over to drink beer while they watched their kids play on the park swings. Everyone in his circle has young kids. But it wasn’t anybody’s birthday month. The girls were born in October, December and July. Valentine’s Day had passed, and it wasn’t time for a St, Paddy’s Day party yet.
Then I heard the laughter. I walked over to the green belt and saw the reason. The back of the pick-up truck was filled with snow from Tahoe, which was getting dumped into the greenbelt. The kids were making snowballs and throwing them at their parents. The parents were throwing them back at their kids. The family pet was romping through the park. Everyone was smiling.
“Why is your snow blue?” I asked, laughing.
“You’d better not come too close,” the mother said. “You might get hit.”
Okay, I’m a senior, but not a Medicare senior yet. I can take a little snow ball. But I took the young mom’s advice and ventured back home, smiling. The kids were having a blast. The driver of the pick-up truck was their uncle.
You wouldn’t have this chain of events happen at Rossmoor.
Maybe someday. I am not ready for a retirement community yet.