Lessons In Contentment

Lessons In Contentment

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.

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Comments

  1. I love, love, love this post. :) Contentment and appreciation for what you have is something that’s very difficult for most people, and they’re both a focus for me and my husband these days. It’s almost a “back to basics” lifestyle, and there’s something very comforting about that. The first neighborhood we lived in sounds a lot like yours – many older couples had lived there since the inception of the community. Anyway, thank you for the nostalgia this morning. :)

  2. Your post sent chills through me. A beautiful story, told in a beatiful way.

  3. I loved reading this … thanks Emily.

  4. Oh, Emily. That is just what I needed today. Thank you.

  5. Love this post. Just stumbled upon your blog a little bit ago. But this post is so simple & yet so profound. Thank you for sharing! It’s so easy to think about the next bigger thing- the next house, next neighborhood, etc… and yet- how beautiful that they are so content with what they have!
    And what a blessing to you to have such great neighbors!

  6. What a beautiful story and a beautiful reminder! Have you told them how much you enjoy watching them? How wonderful to belong to a community and learn from all generations!

  7. Your post really resonated with me. I will definitely be mulling it over as I go about my day. Thanks!

  8. This is a great post! You can see in the older generation the way things ‘used to be’ you bought a home and you pretty much stayed there. You didn’t have 500 sq. ft. per child for them to have their own room. You shared rooms and came together to watch the ONE tv in the living room. I live in a small 3 bedroom (really 2 & 1/2) house and my kids spend almost NO time in their rooms unless they are sleeping. Which is why we have considered them sharing a room when the baby is older so that we can have that other 1/2 room be a ‘spare/guest/whatever’ room…but a lot of people are against us having a boy & a girl sharing a room. I have no idea why- they have to share everything else lol I love the idea of this couple & their quiet contentment!

  9. I really needed to read this today……thank you.

  10. Exactly how I feel too.
    It makes me sad also, though, to think of how much work they’ve put into their home, and you are too, and some people just have no respect or pride or just commmon decency to do the same. It doesn’t take money to rake leaves, keep things neat and tidy and well cared for. Just some hard work, which I think is something that has gone by the wayside. You know..a little bit of pressure, like they did back in the time where your neighbors moved in, is good…”keeping up appearances”…being proud of what you own…isn’t so bad.
    A great post…and I love seeing contenment, in home and marriage.

  11. This was ABSOLUTELY beautiful! XOXO!

  12. Oh, this was so beautiful!

    Like you, I do not know for sure if this home will be what I am still calling ours when I am 77 … but I hope that I have that contentment in my heart that you described here.

    This was just the bit of “lovely” I needed to read today. Thank you :-)

  13. Beautiful!

  14. Absolutely beautiful, Emily. Thank you for this today~

  15. Thank you. I really enjoyed reading this post.

  16. It is such a blessing to have people like these surrounding us. It sounds like this couple is a great reminder and inspiration of so many things. Awesome!

  17. Your post brought tears to my eyes. I have felt so overwhelmed this summer, both sons brought home a ton of stuff from college and my normally nice neat home has a room that looks like it has always been a storage room. Reading your post made me feel grateful for all I have in this home. thank you

  18. Aw, this is awesome. This is what I hope for too when I am old and grey. I want to sit on the swing with my Jeff and watch my grand kids play in the yard.

  19. What an absolutely lovely story. Thank you for the comment on my blog- it is nice to “meet” you too!

  20. This was such a great post! I want to be like that too, not just when I am old, but today. Thank you for reminding me.
    -FringeGirl

  21. Beautiful. What an example to follow.

  22. Oh such an eloquent telling of such a beautiful love story.

  23. This was really an inspired post. Very important for me right now! Me and my husband are just beginning to build our house, and that’s the feeling I want to keep. Thank you very much!

  24. Thanks for sharing. We just moved out a neighborhood like that and we really miss it!

  25. Thanks for posting this story. It really poked my conviction as I look at the vastness that is my home-to-do-to-buy list. Ttfn

  26. Beautiful, Emily– I love the way you told this story!

  27. Thank you for writing this post. Some of the homes in my town I most enjoy seeing as I drive by are those where I suspect it is an older couple living there, carefully tending to their home with love. Like in your story, these are not grand homes but there is a special quality about them.

  28. Thank you for sharing this sweet and heart warming post. I want to BE that couple! My grandparents were that couple…. my grandma sold the family farm when she was 80, but we have so many wonderful memories of that wonderful homestead home that was in the family for 125 years!! Simple, well kept and enjoyed!!

  29. So very, very beautiful. What role models.

  30. What amazing neighbors to have. I love how much thought you’ve put into this post. When you got to the part about them sending their kids to school, then prom, then welcoming their grandkids I was in tears. Aw, who am I kidding. I was in tears when he pulled the car up for his wife at the grocery store. I have no doubt me & my Mr. will be like that. That’s probably why his post connected with me so much, that and because I would love to meet this couple or even better yet have them (or you) for neighbors. Glad you’re back

  31. Wow! Loved this post! It made my day! Just found your blog today and can’t wait to read some of your older entries! Reminded me some much of my own grandparents! Thanks for a beautiful story!

  32. Wow, Wow, wow! Love Love this post!! thanks so much for taking your time to post it.

  33. What a sweet story. Thank you for sharing it!

  34. So many of my generation do not have grandparent sets like these to be models for us. I also find older couples fascinating, especially when they have so much history in one place. My favorite is when the newspaper announcements of 50 or 75 year anniversaries include a photo of when they were young. Looking at the young faces and knowing what they do not know–how much they have ahead of them–is magical to me.

  35. I just stumbled upon you (how is that possible??) and regret that it didn’t happen sooner. This post speaks right to the heart of me. We are in the middle of shaking up our entire lives and it’s so uplifting and exciting to hear of others who value the very same things.

  36. Just found you from Chatting At The Sky and the 31 days links… and I’m so happy. Loved this post, really drew me in and spoke to me. So glad to have found you!

  37. I love this one too!! It completely sums up the way I feel!!

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  39. Weeeee, what a quick and easy sotinuol.

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