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"Can You Hear Me?" by Mary P. Williams

“Can You Hear Me?” by Mary P. Williams

How did this reversal happen?

Ten short years ago people came to my office and listened carefully as I explained the intricacies of “the real estate deal”. There was pleasure in the interaction and conversation about this subject and many others.  The most interesting thing about my job as a Real Estate Broker was listening to the clients describe their own jobs and their lives. Fascinating explanations from intelligent, innovative people who loved telling me about their visions of the future.

Sandwiched between viewing one house and another house they told me how the Internet would eliminate the use of paper. How business would be done without a face-to-face meeting of broker and client. Neither of these propositions happened. The  joy with which they described the speed with which a person could buy the home they would live in and the elimination of useless “personality” in the transaction amazed me. Was it possible that the prospective buyer could simply look at staged photos of a house and buy it from thousands of miles away? What about the intangibles of weather, neighborhood, and those stately trees which add so much to the quality of life?

As they described this future world they ambled thru a house and commented on the lack, or abundance, of light and “how the moon would look seen thru this window.” The rose garden on this property and the raked zen paths on that property were compared and aesthetic decisions were arrived at. None of this could be done at a distance.

The key ingredient in the selection of the “perfect” house for the individual was the presence of a person to listen as the client talked about their desire for this or that ambiance. That was the function of the Broker … to listen and reflect back to the person a list of “needs” and “wants”. Two very different values.  I only “need” two bedrooms/one bath but I “want” four bedrooms/two baths. Listen, listen, listen.

Then came the longed for and dreaded RETIREMENT.  My young, active, movers-and-shakers were replaced by older, settled people in communities for ‘Over 55 Adults’. People who were uninterested in current affairs, politics, and who the latest artist/writer/filmmaker was and which newly opened restaurant had divine food combinations/far-out interior design. Yikes!

Who am I to talk to and listen to now ? My preference is to have face-to-face contact which provides subtle clues … body language, intonation, and facial expression meld together to give a whole sensory experience which cannot be achieved by texting a person. Yikes indeed!!

Oh, for the chance to listen to a brilliant person scintillate in front of me. “ Spouting off” is what I believe some folks would call it … I call it “creative thinking out loud” and it was the thing which characterized San Francisco in the 1980’s, 1990’s and the early years of the 21st century. I miss the enthusiasm with which they talked, debated, visualized, shouted, muttered, sang and otherwise expressed the joy of conversation.

Can you hear Me ?

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Dispersal … That is the word which fits a certain three-week period in a seasonal retirement community. May I share with you the feeling of temporary loss?

The Little Deaths of the Winter Texans

Blue Lights

Blue Lights

The palm trees bases are serenely wrapped with Christmas tree lights presenting a spiraling row of glowing blue lights which make magic in the evening dark.

“When I came back in the Fall and there were no blue lights I clutched my heart and said to myself, “the Park is going downhill.” A week later they repaired the spirals and turned on the lights and I breathed a sign of relief,” my companion said.

“Yes, I agree, it is like a little death of something we hold on to that gives us a slight lift of our spirits. A bit of beauty.” I reply.

Another season in The RV Resort and Park begins and the activities speed up.  There is the small card room, the large card room, the ballroom for dancing (trail dancing, swing dancing, formal waltzing, clogging) and magic acts, etc.   There is bean bag and wood-shop and quilting.  Most anticipated is Sip n’Dip at the pool with a Karaoke band and bodies strewn up and down the patio baking to the desired envy-producing brown to display back home.  It is a signal to the children, grandchildren, and friends that this person still has a vibrant, active life.

Sandwiched between the gaiety and good feeling there are hushed discussions of who did not come back this season.  Memorial service notices appear of the bulletin board. Ambulance sirens enter and exit the park late at night.  The tendrils of unease sneak along the streets.

Still, here are the men clustered in groups, playing darts, playing billiards, playing water volleyball in the small swimming pool.  Happily hurling insults back and forth with the ball. The weeks fly by as  friendships are renewed, gutters are repaired, weeds are whacked, and the irritating things that could go wrong … do go wrong – including the many things that can go wrong with an old body.

Now there are trips to the Dr. and a rush across the border into Mexico to do the dental work that costs so much in Canada.

And then … Season Over … who will not return? Whose children (40 or 50 years old) are coming to pack them up, load a truck, and take them away, never to return? Who has sold their unit? There is a last dashing around as the seller of a unit tries to give away several years of patio chairs, barbecues, dart boards, and water shoes. Who is staying? Do they want this item or that?  Do you want my grapefruit  picker? Would you like my container plant?

Two weeks of final dinners, drinks raised to celebrate going “Home” … back to Canada, Iowa, Nebraska, or Minnesota where reside the grandchildren we never hear from. The “grands” cannot afford to telephone and we have all painfully forced ourselves to learn to email only to find “the Kids” have moved on to I-phones and can only be reached by texting. Free classes are given by one of the computer nerds and we struggle with the tiny, tiny keys we cannot see on palm sized phones and know this is another little death if we give up.

No tears … last hugs … promises to be here next Fall …“God willing and the creek don’t rise.” Yet we all look searchingly at each other, memorizing faces, holding these persons in our hearts while the undercurrent sweeps us along with the knowledge that our days are truly numbered.

These are the little deaths of the Winter Texans in the Rio Grande Valley.

 

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