We have lived in this house in this neighborhood for just over 4 years now. It was and still is very transitional. There are rental properties, run down properties and then a select few of us who are trying to make where we live nicer, better, in hopes of making the whole neighborhood that way. Sometimes it feels like a losing battle. There is one home that has always stood out to me. It’s across the street and two over from us. An older couple lives there. They have been here since 1960 when the neighborhood started. The man built their home with his bare hands, a modest concrete block home that is well maintained and pretty. Nothing grand or gorgeous, just simple and what they need.
The couple themselves are the same way. Nothing grand or gorgeous, just simple and content. They raised 6 kids in their modest 60s ranch. They never upgraded, bought more house than they needed or could afford. And now their grandkids come for vacations and holidays to visit them and they play in the same rooms, the same yard that their parents once did.
They visit us and we visit them. They bring us bread from their church bake sale once a week. I bake things for them and use it as an excuse to visit. My kids love them because they are nice and also because she offers milk and cookies when they come over. Everything about them is simple, comfortable and content.
Last week, I saw them in the grocery store while I was picking up our weekly groceries. Before I walked over to say hello, I only heard them and thought how cute it was this older couple grocery shopping together, checking the buy one get one free sales and matching up coupons. When I realized it was them, I went over to say hello, offered a hug and a smile and we chatted for a few minutes before going our separate ways.
I smiled my way through the rest of my grocery outing, thinking of when I am 77 someday and wondering if I’ll be grocery shopping in my nicest clothes with my husband, huddled over a handful of coupons, choosing which coffee to buy and what treats to stick in the cupboard for when the neighborhood kids come by. When I left the store, I saw the man sitting in his car out in front of the store. He had left ahead of his wife to pull the car up – so it would be cold when she got in out of the Florida heat, and so she wouldn’t have to walk so far – and I smiled again.
A few days later, hubby and I were having one of those days. He was in and out from the front porch, working with tools out front, coming through the house with materials to work on this home he’s built with his own hands. He took a break to play with the kids while I went for my afternoon run. I waved to her as I ran past. When I arrived back home from my run, hubby handed me a water bottle and said she had brought a bunch of them over for us. A small token to show they understand and appreciate who we are and what we are doing over here on this little slice of land in this little home of ours.
Each time I see them – grocery shopping, sitting outside talking in their adirondack chairs, driving up the road past me – I think of how they’ve been here on this street calling this home for 50 years. They brought babies home here. Their kids learned to ride bikes on this same street. They were the first ones outside cheering the day my daughter rode without training wheels for the first time. They sent kids to preschool and first grade just like I did today. They took pictures out front of prom dates. Then they watched as their kids brought grandkids over and they did the same things in their slice of the world.
By all accounts, they are nothing but living simply and contentedly. They take care of what they own, meticulously. Their home is modest and comfortable – nothing fancy, but always pretty. I see them and think that no matter where I am, when I am 77 I want to be that too. I may not live in this home for 50 years. I may not host Thanksgiving here with grandkids running around. I just don’t know. But I hope to have a sliver of that feeling of contentment in all that I do and all that I own. I want to take care of what is mine. Make do with what I have. Be happy with what is right here in front of me today. And encourage others to do the same.