My father will be 93 years old at the end of November. He is still living on his own and taking care of himself. There have been a few bumps in the road over the past few years, which included a surgery and rehabilitation period. He put forth a great deal of effort and was able to make it back into his home. But living a few hours away, it is not quite as easy to check in on him, and a phone call every night is just not always enough.

My father lives in a neighborhood that has become a retirement village. Though open to anyone with no restrictions, for some reason it has drawn in quite a few retired or nearly retired individuals into the neighborhood. These individuals in their 60’s and 70’s have connected with my father and formed a caring bond. They have taken it upon themselves to care for my father just as they would with their own family. There is a neighbor that watches for when the back drapes are opened, and if they aren’t opened as expected a call is made to check on my father. There are those that have picked up his mail, gotten his newspaper to his front door, and most know his code to the garage so they run in, check his refrigerator to see if he needs anything before going to the store for themselves, and those that just stop in throughout the day, sometimes it may be a quick check and other times it may be to watch a Cubs game or check on the Bears score. All of these neighbors are an integral part of his life. He looks forward to their visits as well as the occasional dinners or treats they may bring him from their own dinner tables.

He would not be living on his own without these neighbors and I can’t say enough to thank them all for their efforts. The love and care they provide to my father is well beyond what anyone would ever expect from someone. But last week my father lost one of his best friends. His neighbor, Bill was an integral part of his life. Living right across flamethe street, Bill would check in on my father multiple times a day. He and my father would share a few jokes or just chat for a short time. Bill was almost 72 years old and treated my father as his own, but last week Bill passed away. His connection to my father will not be forgotten.

Part of our journey in life involves our connections to others. Those bonds we make with others endure long after paths no longer cross. As you move through life, connect with people, bring them into your life, share your experiences, and most of all – care for those around you.

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