The bags have been unpacked, the clothes put away and the neighbors sufficiently greeted and acknowledged. The coverings have been taken off the furniture and the cable TV service has been restored. All is ready for another six months. We are back in Arizona for the winter.
This will be our thirteenth winter here in Mesa and it never gets old. The friends we have made here are like family to us. Spending six months in this close knit, retirement community can’t help but give you a feeling warmth and security.
Take for example our neighbor across the street, Evelyn. Eighty five years old and recently widowed, she moved here a couple of years ago from Kansas City and I don’t know who adopted who; she us, or us her. At any rate, we have become family, with visits, dinners and outings. This sweet, caring little old lady has become quite a delight in our lives.
The first time I really partook of Evelyn’s caring nature was when Diana went on one of her occasional trips back to Idaho to visit her mother. I had barely gotten back from dropping Diana off at the airport and had settled into the chair at the desk in our office, when I heard the doorbell ring. When I opened the door, there stood Evelyn; this thin, frail little thing holding on for dear life to several covered containers full of steaming portions of food.
“I knew you would probably be hungry with Diana gone so I thought I would bring you over a little lunch.”
I was amazed and somewhat alarmed.
“Evelyn, what are you doing?” I said as I reached for the containers and helped her into the house. Thank you for doing this but you could have fallen and hurt yourself carrying all his stuff over here.”
“Oh, I’m ok.” She said with a wave of her hand as I took the food from her and carried it into the kitchen. I just wanted to help you out knowing that Diana wasn’t here to fix you lunch.
“Well that’s very nice of you Evelyn.” I said, looking down at the covered containers sitting on the counter. “But I assure you I’m not going to starve while Diana’s gone. Please don’t go out of your way for me.”
“Oh, it’s nothing.” She said as she waved her hand in the air again. “It’s just my way of saying thanks to you folks for being my neighbor.”
I helped Evelyn out the door and across the street to her house. As I opened her door and helped her inside I said, “Now next time Evelyn promise me that you won’t cross the street with your arms full okay?” You really don’t need to bring me food. But if you do, call first before you come over and I’ll help you.”
“Okay, see you later.” She said with a smile. “Enjoy your lunch.”
“Oh, I’m sure I will. Thanks again.” I turned and headed back to the house.
Once inside I went straight to the kitchen and uncovered the partitioned plastic containers. Before me on the counter were steaming piles of roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, a couple of slices of buttered bread and a large piece of carrot cake. It was much more than a quick lunch. It was a meal large enough to feed a small army. As I dug into my unexpected feast, I knew that my meal planning for the next few days was done.
The next day I was sitting at my desk again going over some papers. The house was quiet and I was starting to get used to having the place all to myself. It was just around lunch time and I was thinking about getting out Evelyn’s roast beef leftover dinner when the doorbell rang once more.
I walked through the living room and opened the door. There stood little, frail Evelyn again, smiling up at me as she struggled to hold onto another set of covered containers full of food.
“Evelyn, what are you doing?” I exclaimed as I reached for the containers and helped her through the door. “I told you not to do this. You’re going to fall and hurt yourself.”
“I know, I know.” She said with an absent minded wave at the air. “But I just couldn’t think of you over here all alone without Diana to cook your lunch.”
“But Evelyn” I said as I carried the containers to the kitchen. “You promised me that you would call first before you came over again. And besides, I still have a lot of food left that you brought over yesterday.”
“You do?” She asked, somewhat surprised, as she followed me into the kitchen. “You must have not been very hungry.”
“I was.” I said as I sat the food down on the kitchen counter. “But you made enough for several meals.”