A New Life! Retirement at its Best. 11

Activities and More

After being here now for four months and being organized to a certain extent, I am taking the time five days a week to join a group of women and a few men for a half hour of chair fitness after breakfast, when I am still in the main building. The attraction of course is that the new trainer is 25 years old and handsome, but he does a good job and plays nice music to go with it. The fitness center and the pool, three offices of the staff and the Physical Therapy rooms are downstairs, on the first floor. A long, winding stairway takes you down from the hallway of the second floor, or you can take the elevator. That elevator must be the slowest in all of Cary. No, I am saying it wrong, because at one of the other facilities that we checked out there was a really slow elevator – weird, in a building that is four years newer than ours. The elevator in our building is slow because it seems to be always in use. Everybody uses it to go down to the first floor and up to the third and fourth. Whether people go up to their apartment or down for breakfast, dinner, a movie, a game, entertainment, the library, Physical Therapy or the salon where they cut hair and do nails, 98% of the Residents use that elevator. Outside the elevator doors, on every floor, is a small sofa, so you can sit down when you have to wait. Many people are slow getting in or out because of walkers or canes, or just because they are not in a hurry.

Nobody here is in a hurry; only I walk fast through the halls compared to everybody else, yet that is my regular pace. In time I will slow down I guess, because once, in our home, I injured my arm when I dashed from the kitchen to the hallway, taking a shortcut. The sharp corner of the wall cut an inch into my skin; I flipped it right back, but it took a while to heal. I sometimes injure my arms on sharp cabinet doors, and recently scratched my leg as well when I attached a new garden hose to the Hose Bibb in the side wall of our cottage and dragged it around the front to our front porch, pulling it through the bushes and ducking underneath tree branches. It was worth it though, because I left the water on and can easily water the three potted plants by our front door every morning before the sun is up. But I realize that at my age I have to move slower, I should not crawl through sharp-leafed bushes or make my way to the nextdoor neighborhood other than along the beaten path, being the sidewalks. But I love all those things I am doing! Let me tell you about another recent discovery.

I had noticed that the last house in the cul-de-sac of Agassi street in Wimbledon had a tall wooden fence running along the left side. When I looked on a Google Map, I saw that that house is the last one on this side of the “lake”, the pond that is at least six times as large as our small pond. Hm, if I walk along that fence (outside of the private property), I think I will get to the lawn at the top of the lake. And when I cross that lawn I will get to the trail, my greenway. And so, one late afternoon after dinner, I cut through the trees from our property to Agassi Street, stayed off the pavement and continued on the left side of the brown fence. There was also the little stream, a ditch, rather, with slow running water. Hm, wherever that water comes from, it might just end up in the lake. Nobody had ever walked where I walked that afternoon, that is after the fence was built, and there were plenty of things to get scratched by, but I ended up victoriously on the green meadow with just one gash on my left leg. (The fitness trainer noticed it during stretching the next day and asked if the cat had scratched me, but I did not tell him my secret.) In the lake, a turtle was basking in the late after noon sun on a log floating in the water. What a sight! I am learning to use my iPhone, and I took a picture, but it is a little blurry.

I returned home along the greenway, past the Little Free Library, the swimming pool and the tennis courts. Mind you, I walk not only because I like it and have the time for it, but also to get the 10,000 + steps measured on my Fitbit. So I need to take the long way and will save shortcuts for emergencies. But it’s good to know how to get home quickly from Wimbledon when I need to.

The neighborhood rejoiced yesterday because the last leftover evidence of the re-roofing job, the Port-a-Potty, was finally picked up; last week they removed the huge yellow trash container as well as the large blue crane, all parked at the end of our cul-de-sac in front of our cottage. So now we have a peaceful street with grass and tall trees to come home to, and visitors can park their car.


The past two hurricanes, Harvey and Irma have created anguish and despair, total destruction, mandatory evacuations, pain and sorrow. We watched the paths of the hurricanes, hoping they would veer off to the east, but they made landfall and destroyed life and properties. It was terrible to watch; we could only help a little by making donations to local charities, who would put them to good use. But something like that does not really touch you deeply. Only when you are in the midst of it do you undergo the crushing reality, the destructive force of nature. When we heard that friends or relatives in the affected areas went back to their homes after the evacuation to find everything still in place, we breathed a sigh of relief and went on with our lives.

But then we were confronted with two evacuees, a father and his six year old daughter, who had lost all after Irma hit Key West, where they lived. I met Kevin outside the dining room one day, introduced myself and heard his sad story. A single father and his little girl, they were ordered to evacuate when Irma approached. Kevin was a Chef at a local Resort and Lilly was about to start Kindergarten. In a hurry, Kevin filled two suitcases, mainly with clothes and Lilly’s things, and then they drove to the shelter, where they stayed for five days. In those five days they lost everything they owned. The car, the house, their possessions and his job. And so, in desperation, they took a Greyhound bus to Cary, where his parents are Residents in Waltonwood. They were offered the guest suite for five days, and in the mean time Kevin looked for a school for his little girl. “She has missed two weeks already,” he said to me, “she has to go back to school.”
“Will you go back to Key West when you get things in order?”
“Oh yes.”
“To live?”
” Yes, my boss told me I will get my job back. I am the Chef, and after they have restored the Resort he hopes to open by Christmas, maybe even at Thanksgiving.”

They were homeless. A casualty of the hurricane, hitting close to home. A local Charity found them a motel room to stay in, Lilly went to school and loved it, and Grandma and Grandpa helped out when driving was involved to and from the motel, the school and business offices. One night Kevin called them with the worst news. On top of everything else he had lost his job. The Resort in Key West had incurred too much damage to be restored. It would be torn down and rebuilt, and that would take at least three years. We don’t know the end of the story; perhaps they are going to stay in Cary and start over. They have not lost hope. Anything now will be a change for the better.

How blessed we feel. We are still together, have a home and a car and live in a safe community.

It’s a wonderful world.

Until next time!


5 thoughts on “A New Life! Retirement at its Best. 11”

  1. I so enjoy reading your posts, Ronny. I feel like I’m there with you exploring a new home and remembering my days in Chapel Hill.

    • Thank you, Cheri. I write things like I experience them. In a way I am trying to tell people that living in a retirement community does not have to be as horrible as many think. I am one of the five youngest ones of course, but life is what you make it, wherever you are. Thanks for your 👍👍

      • P.S. Have you read the novel by Preety Shenoi, “Life is what you make it”? Since I use that expression all the time, I’m going to have to get the book!

  2. Oh my. Yes, meeting the father and daughter, really helps us to understand the human side of devastation and the importance of family. Keep us posted on their new lives.

    About the elevator: I was on the 3rd floor of a retirement home here. I’d left my friend in her room, and I was, of course, looking for the elevator down. After I’d circled around the wondered, “Hmmm. Have I been here before?” I was too embarrassed to ask (and admit) that I was lost-without-elevator. So I found an “exit” sign and took the stairs. When I got to the bottom floor and out the door, I still had to figure out how to get around the pool and out to the lobby!


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