I can't remember another 75 year-old with as much energy as my neighbor Gail. She is the president of the Durango Seniors Outdoors Club. In her own words, she's full of the dickens, 24/7. So when, following some bone graft dental work in her jaw, she suddenly found herself with zero energy, not even enough energy to read a book or watch Netflix, she was scared. She described it as the fear of her aging body giving out and not being able to handle the dental work and who knows what else. To me it seemed like the ultimate core fear of mortality.
Word quickly got out in the neighborhood. As Gail says, "When somebody's in need here, the grapevine is fast and strong." Before she knew it, she had people coming over with all sorts of soup, especially chicken soup, and it was all delicious. Someone created a daily sign-up sheet for bringing meals, but because everyone tended to bring much more than Gail could eat in one day, she ended up with a freezer full of soup that lasted a month past when she had recovered.
Listening to Gail talk about it, I could hear the joy in her voice. She said that of course she enjoyed the delicious meals, but much more than that, she feels gratitude. Gratitude for how the community rallied. Gratitude that as a single, older woman, she has neighbors who love her for who she is and are there to take care of her. Gratitude in knowing that it's OK to ask for and receive help. Gratitude for the genuine gifts with no expectations of being paid back. Gratitude for a sense of belonging.
Gail has four adult sons with whom she is very close, but who live far away. She told me, "I have four boys who are so happy that I live in this community because they know their mom is loved and cared for in a friendship loving way. They don't have to worry about me eating dinner alone. They know I'm safe and cared for, emotionally and physically, in a really neighborly, friendly way, that's not that common in our culture anymore."
Yours in Community,