Sunday, November 14, 2010


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.



  1. Sixbears,I know what ya mean. Like you I have three great kids and 5 grand kids possibly 1 on the way.And I thank God everyday my folks are still alive.We all live with in 35 miles of each other.Extended family cousins and such I have a bunch but never see em.Old friends moved and or died off.One bitch about getting older time catches up!But I try to hang with the kids and my folks often.And I have a great online community of like minded friends.Thats cool too,don't have to leave the living room to talk to my buddy's in New Hampshire,Texas,So Ind. etc.Great post Bro!


  2. I am the one that left my family, most of whom are still back in Pennsylvania. I have lived several places and the last four have been in Texas. Been on this place for 25 years. I sure miss my family and the older I get the less time I will have to visit. I only have one aunt left from my parents generation and I am in my upper 60's. You really do have me homesick, didn't need much of push.

  3. After 20 year in the military, and another 10 years in Florida, I am about to buy a lakeside lot in the Ozarks that is close to family and my childhood home. The older I get, the more I miss the family gatherings and old friends from childhood. We plan on building a cottage on the lot, RVing during the worst of the summer, and spending the worst parts of winter in Florida, but will be spending a lot more time close to family.

    On a different note, I have a 2008 F250 with a 6.4L diesel, and I was curious about running bio-diesel through it. Do you have any recommendations or pointers for where I can get info for the conversion of this type of engine?

  4. Thanks China!
    Didn't mean to make you feel bad Dizzy.
    Jack, family is family.

    As for the truck, I must admit I'm not an expert on the 6.4. My truck is old enough to have the old school 7.3. Bio-diesel should work fine, especially in milder climates. Be prepared to change a lot of fuel filters the first few tanks of bio-diesel. The bio-diesel has a solvent effect that lifts away old diesel deposites. Those end up in your filter.

    I'm running straight waste vegetable oil, from a heated tank. Those old mechanical diesels are a lot more forgiving than the computer controlled models.