Community is important. For a lot of us, the core of our community is family. For others, our birth family is so screwed up we thank god for strangers. Strangers may give us a break. No matter how your core community is formed, you need to have one. Humans are social animals. We don't function quite right completely isolated.
Which is why I'm a bit bothered by the way so many modern families are scattered all over the country.
My wife grew up in the Mid-Hudson Valley of New York. Her aunt lived across the street. In fact there were a lot of relatives houses within safe walking distance for little 5 year old legs. To see her grandparents who lived in the farm house a couple towns over was a big far adventure. None of her relatives live in her home town any more. Of course, many have passed on, but their descendants have all scattered to the four winds. Property taxes and disappearing jobs drove them away. Her tale is not unique. Details vary, but the American diaspora happened across the country.
More of my relatives are close by, but many of them are anchored to the area by houses that won't sell.
I'm blessed by having my own kids and grandkids fairly close. They have found ways to make of go it where they want to live. Two of my daughters live in the small city nearby. My other daughter lives in a neighboring state. We get together often, and I love it. I love to travel, but always enjoy coming home.
My friend's mother just died in a hospital in Florida. He and his wife flew down from New Hampshire. Wonderful lady. She'll be missed. Seven or eight years ago she and her husband had a winter home in a park in Florida. Nice place, as far as these parks go. It was mostly filled with double wide trailers. Someone years ago had the foresight to build the part around the massive old live oaks and preserve them. The place has these great trees for shade, and a couple of ponds. The recreational facilities are nice too.
It's the sort of place I thought my parents would like. They'd gone through a medical bankruptcy and had reached the point where they had to sell their house. Mom had physical problems. Cold winters caused her extreme pain. They used their last remaining funds and bought a place in the park. Mom loved it there her five remaining years. The downside? She missed the weddings of two out of my three daughters. Before she passed she only got to meet one of her great grandchildren. That's only because one daughter and her family made a special effort to travel to Florida.
My friend's mother and father moved out of the park a year or so ago. They could not resist buying a giant McMansion for small money. Now I can't help but think of my friend's father rattling around in that big place, all alone. No idea what he'll do now.
My dad's still down there in the park, but he's in good enough shape yet to travel north. He spent the month of August with me. I do worry about my dad. He's 75. He drives and walks around on his own two legs, so in Florida, that makes him a catch. Still, he's got to watch his sugar now. He had a couple small strokes. Tests can't find anything wrong, and he claims to feel fine. Friends of his in the park keep an eye on him. Glad he's social. Lots of people know him and like him. It's a community of a sort, and I'm glad they are there for him. Problem is, it's a community of all old frail people. Plenty of wisdom, not a lot of strong backs.
My name is on the deed to my dad's double wide. After the medical bankruptcy, dad's credit was so trashed, the only way the park would approve the sale was if someone with better credit was also on the deed. As luck would have it, that was during a point in my life when my credit was good. So now, I guess I'm an owner. However, as much as I like the park, I don't want to live there. It's not community enough for me.
Joseph Walker On Western Wednesday...!
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