The temperature today hit 90 degrees. The sun was brightly shining, flowers are blooming, and the pool water is warm. Summer in Florida is here.
But, in our development, there is winter. So many of our residents are in the winter of life. Ours is a 55-and-older community, and many people understand that they are most likely living in their last home.
Each week there are many announcements about garage sales, yard sales, and tag sales. Many of these sales are being run by the children of our ill or deceased neighbors. Once a resident is dead, or too ill to care for herself, the children come and clean out the house. Holding sales is the easiest way to do that.
In many cases, the children don't want much of the "stuff" that has accumulated through a lifetime. And, since the law requires that you be 55 years old or older to live here, most homes are sold. Some people tell me that the easiest way to find a home for sale in our development is to read the daily obituaries.
But, even in the midst of this winter, there is abundant life. Lots of our residents stay active, playing all kinds of sports, belonging to clubs, using the athletic amenities to stay in shape, and participating in community service programs to foster volunteerism. Just because our hair is white does not mean that we are old at heart.
When my husband and I first thought of moving here, I wondered how I would feel being surrounded by illness and death. I honestly believed that it wouldn't bother me, since I loved the area and felt comfortable in our home.
There is a comfort in being surrounded by people who are similar to you. Each of us handles growing older in our own way, but the reality is this - we are aging. The population of our development has an average age of about 75. So, in the scheme of things, I am a "young'un" since I just turned 73.
One of my neighbors just turned 92. She is amazing - active, mentally sharp, and enjoying life. She walks her dogs twice a day and makes sure to stop and gab with folks she encounters on her trips. She once told me that she plans on living to at least 100. I think she will.
The winter of life could be depressing and morbid. Or, it can be a time of personal reflection, mental and physical activity, and daily joys. Personally, I try to wake up each day with an attitude of gratitude. I find ways to tell the people I love that I love them. I try to be a better person. And, most of all, I try to ignore the winter coming on and concentrate on finding happiness wherever I can.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT DR. SMITH, SHE CAN BE REACHED AT HER EMAIL ADDRESS: JSMITH1313@CFL.RR.COM OR IN CARE OF THIS NEWSPAPER.