The Glue of Community Does Not Age So Well

Living in place does not insure a lasting connection, as friends our age drop out of the picture. Will we experience new friendships close at hand in a retirement community?

What seems certain, should we stay housed where we are now, is that we are likely to become more socially isolated and alone over the coming months and years. That would not be good for our mental health.

But here’s the thing: Our friends are dying; they are moving away from Floyd; they are less able or unable to drive to see us; and some won’t recognize us when and if they got here.

Moving into a “full spectrum” retirement community under one roof, as I alluded to recently, makes it easier to make friends we will see at breakfast, who live down the hall and can ask their neighbors every day, which is Groundhog Day again, who we are.

And the other positive aspect to all this, for which I am very thankful, is that keeping in touch today versus just a generation ago, is easy. FREE long distance phone calls and even FaceTime calls are so easy. No quarters are required for the corner pay phone. No party lines (early Social media) are likely to pick up while we are Zooming across half a continent in real time.

Virtual is a poor replacement for REAL space and Face-to-Face, but we can make better and more regular use of hearing voices, seeing places and faces we left behind. That may ease the pain of separation and grief of loss, at least a little.

This coming tectonic rift we anticipate will motivate me to write every day, write from the heart, and write what I know. This was where I came in (as we used to say in the days of movie theaters). This was my mandate in 2002 with the first public words. It can be a driver for the final ones, as well.

So I will hope to make better use of this blog (as well as my space at Substack in some kind of synchrony). Fragments from Floyd is where I bared my soul starting in twenty years ago. Maybe I can extend its life until 2033. I guess we’re just going to have to watch it unfold, flourish or fade.

Sorry for any formatting weirdness (like two copies of the “featured image” that might persist here until I can clean that up.) “Don’t worry about quality, just get it done”. This was our daughter’s mantra in Occupational Therapy school, when, as in our present state, something to hand in was preferable to nothing.

There’s no shame in lowering the bar if it means some words instead of no words. I’ve set the standard low, my friends. You’ll just have to live with it.

Share this with your friends!

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Wherever you post is fine with me, Fred. I hope you will send an email with the link to fragments every time you post. Otherwise, how will I receive Fragments in my inbox every day? I hope you can continue some photography too!
    I agree, that the community aspects of a senior living facility Are an excellent strong point.

  2. Hello Fred
    You are coming through strong and clear.
    Typing has become a huge chore for me but I can still copy and paste writings from my
    ample stored files. I don’t think your comment space is the proper place to use that remaining skill.
    I will try to insert an address to my little Blogger site as I sign off here.
    I MUST take care of some personal care responsibilities as soon as I finish my routines on this desktop computer. You may notice that I have become A Believer in Bigfoot from the title of said Blog. I love it!
    I don’t think the above is an active link. but it will get you there if you desire to go to the trouble.
    Send me all the emails your set-up will provide, Please.
    Take care my friend. Keep walking that long road home.
    Clarence Bowles

  3. Thanks, Fred! Look forward to more frequent writings about the current phases of our lives. We all are thinking about “What’s next?”. As I read your post and am waiting at the dermatologist office, our next errand this morning is to visit Warm Hearth in Blacksburg, hoping to get a sense of whether that is a place we might consider after giving up on aging in place.
    Best wishes,

  4. Your thoughts are those of many of us “of a certain age”. I am slowly letting go of many things, desiring a simpler life, and I know that eventually a move is in the future for us. Right now, finding a rough balance between the pragmatic and the bittersweet is the challenge.

  5. Hey, Fred! I found you! So happy to read your posts. I really miss the old bunch of amazing blog friends that congregated at Time Goes By – Ronni Bennett’s blog. Bless her heart. I am on FB as Beth Bartlett, which I used when FB police said Cowtown Pattie was not a real person. Huh? I don’t write much at my blog, but thinking about giving it another go. Hope you are well.