Yes, This is where I live. In one of the homes I have walked by and wondered who lives there. Now I do.
Yes, my bedroom overlooks the ocean, and snorkeling is just 8 floors down. But as great as it is, the people are the best part.
Miss Flo is the woman I care for. She cares for me. She has welcomed me not only into her home, but into her family (I was going to say “into her heart” but that was too cheesy chiche’, even for me.) She is 89, sharp as a tack and likes to eat popcorn for dinner sometimes. She loves, really really loves, Glenn Beck, calls her representatives to talk about the “Pelosi Heath Care Plan” that is cutting her benefits, all while reassuring me that the Lord is in control, and that I need to know that she knows that. She tenderly prays for me and my family before meals.
She does not let the fact that she is partially blind and pretty darn near completely deaf hinder her from trying to look above today’s standards of presentable at all times. If her hair is graying, she wears a hat to match her outfit. Even around the house.
She has spent her life working. And that has not stopped! She and her husband had a potato farm in Idaho. She raised their 3 children, then went back to school later in life to become a teacher. She was a widow for many years, content, and hesitant to date when she met her second husband Henry.
And my goodness she loves her husband. He passed away a year ago this week, and through her own limitations, she humbly cared for him night and day as hisParkinson’s robbed him of the full life they lived together. He was a biblical counselor, and she traveled the world by his side. She tells stories of their adventures, and the people along the way. She recaps his books and sermons and still cracks herself up retelling his jokes. She plays DVDs of his conferences, and I am amazed at how he still shepherds her soul towards the Lord through modern technology.
She is lovely, but she is also lonely. She is aware that she has outlived most of her friends and all of her family, including her only son. Her condition has forced her daughters to decide to sell the home she shared with her Henry. It’s on the market. And it’s a rough market.
And then there is the staff. They are my adopted grandparents.
Mr. Mike works the front desk. Has a thick New York accent. I don’t see him much, but I think I have busted him flirting with my friends.
Mr. Bob works at the guard-house out front and checks in on how I am doing on the weekend nights. He notices when I get home earlier or later than usual. He wants to know if I am sleeping okay. He wants to know if I will have a coworker waiting for me in the parking lot at work when I get to Starbucks in the morning because “A girl should not be alone at this time at night.” He even came into Starbucks the one morning “just to say hi”. I wasn’t there. He is so sweet.
Ohh my, then there is Miss Trudy. She is spunky. I have only had one guy friend over to Miss Flo’s, ever. So the girls and I were hanging out and having dinner and he was the only guy. They had just come from the beach, and he was in visiting from out-of-town, so he had his suitcase to clean up for dinner. And sheflat-out asked me in her sweet southern drawl asked me if he was our stripper. I was beyond embarrassed, red as this white girl can get. Spunky indeed.
Miss Barbara encourages me in my singleness. She met her husband at church, and they have been married for 40 years or something crazy like that. She is afraid of driving on i-95 and she gets ticked off that people assume she is “less off” because she guards the door at North Ocean Drive. She is actually retired from a profession, and yes her diamonds are real. One of the residents inappropriately asked one day, and assumed they weren’t. She laughs when she sees me come in from work late at night, then leaving way too early in the morning, running late with a towel on my head.
Finally, Miss Sandy. She is the youngest of the bunch. She works the midshift. I have such a heart for her. She saw me with my Nike shirt the one morning and we had an opportunity to talk about weight loss and our lives. She admitted that she gained all of her weight after giving birth to her now grown children. Her choices have led to diabetes. The one morning as I was walking through the lobby, she asked if she could talk to me. Through her tears she told me that she was considering gastric bypass, but she knows it’s not right for her. The Lord used me to encourage her, and she has chosen a healthier path guided by a team of doctors. But as it always turns out, I am more encouraged by her than she is by me.
I don’t know how long I will be at North Ocean Drive. So today I give thanks.
(Yep, didn’t know how to end this one… still thankful that one day I will have an editor.)