Police on the Scene!

The police were in our neighborhood again today. I know, I know, it's beginning to sound more like the Urban Jungle than the Suburban Jungle.

I saw 2 squad cars at my neighbors' home....my very elderly neighbors' home. Then I saw an ambulance. Holy smokes! I ran out the door and over to their house as soon as I could (you had to know there would be running!)

As soon as I got to their driveway, one of their son's pulled up. They were safe! Phew. It turns out she was having major breathing problems and they had to give her oxygen for awhile, but everything was okay.

Still, the police lingered for a long time and have been driving up and down our street all afternoon. Hovering almost like vultures, just waiting.... I'm glad they are being so attentive but it sort of freaks me out.

I hate to imagine saying good bye to either of them. So, in order to remember the good times I've had with these friends, I'm going to write a few of them down. Otherwise my memory...well, it's best described as, "gone with the wind."

By some twist of fate, we got to know these neighbors pretty well. Our neighborhood is made up of mostly 30 something, young families (it is the suburbs after all) and this couple are the only people over 40....they are 88 and 87.

Most of my other neighbors don't even know they live in the neighborhood. They live on a 5 acre lot completely surrounded by trees. 5-acres in the suburbs is unheard of. But most of what goes on in their house, is unheard of for our suburb.

How did I we end up getting to know them so well? Your'e going to love this....we get their mail on a weekly basis. No, I don't mean we pick it up for them and bring it to their house. The mailman delivers us the wrong mail all the time and 6 times out of 10, it's theirs.

So we've had many opportunities to walk their mail over to them. And it turns out they have a lot to talk about! They usually usher us in and talk to us for hours at a time. They are incredibly interesting people.

They are outside everyday working in their yard. They have a huge garden, and an orchard full of fruit trees, grapes, asparagus, berries, you name it! They built their home with their own two hands back in the 50's and have lived in it ever since.

They heat/cool their home with solar panels. They raise chickens, and they tap the forest's maple trees each winter...to the tune of 200 gallons of syrup (that's thousands of gallons of sap by the way.) All in the suburbs!

They are the most active old people I've ever met. I'm sure they hurt, but they never complain about it. They make all their own things, and almost never set out a trash can. Just a small recycling bin each week with their newspapers in it. They read a lot!

She was disgusted that I spent $50-60 a week on groceries. Sheesh...I thought I was doing well!

I have some super funny memories of them. First of all, they don't just tap the maple trees. They venture into the forest on a four-wheeler. He drives it. Behind the four-wheeler is a trailer with a very large tank on it.

The tank holds the syrup....and Elaine! She straddles it and they ride off into the forest. You'd have to see them to get the full image, but try to imagine the oldest people you know, put the lady on top of a huge tank and imagine an old man racing off on a four-wheeler as she holds on for dear life! Keep in mind that syrup tapping happens in February/March.

One day they were returning from the forest and the police were right behind them. She later told me they were told not to bring a motorized vehicle into the forest. You see, they used to own 120 acres of this beautiful land. They sold 80 acres to developers (hence the home for yours truly.)

40 of the acres were taken by imminent domain to become part of our forest preserve. I'm so glad the forest is preserved, but it's a real bite that the government just took it away. In the exchange, they were given rights to continue to tap the Maple trees.

And how else can two late octogenarians carry thousands of gallons of syrup? They really need to use their ATV. They were so distraught and I told them to just go for it. You only live once right? What a great story to tell that they were arrested at 88 years old! Wahoo!

They thought that was hilarious and decided to just go for it. If you're going to go to jail, at least make it funny. Last year, they let us tap the trees with them. We had fun, but we were a little fast for them. :)

I hope they make it through this winter; last year she had such bad pneumonia. Next time they're out tapping trees, I'm going to take a picture. :)

One time I came over with their mail, and she opened the door in tears. Real tears, running down the lines in her face. She told me they had just returned from a funeral for their 4 year old great-grandson. I listened for awhile, but not being one to hug, I did the only thing I could think of. I offered to make her some homemade bread.

We both laughed so hard it was almost exercise. I'm so happy they are so spry. I really hope to be so active and with it when I'm their age.

One time I saw her take a dive and roll down the hill. I ran over and she was laughing so hard. She said "have you ever seen an old lady do that?" It was funny. She was trying to flag me down because she wanted to tell me about an old lady she helped at the grocery store. How old does a lady have to be if an 88 year old woman calls her old?

She asked me to come over and teach her how to care for blueberries. Me? I know something about gardening that she doesn't? Amazing. But I have a secret weapon...the internet. I've told them about the internet. I've sold things for them on craigslist, and they were amazed!

Eventually, they decided to get it. And their poor kids have been trying to teach them to use it for months!

They've introduced me to all of their kids (silent giggle) and I can barely contain myself. They always say "here are the kids" or something to that effect, but their kids are all in their 60's. Just the word kids gets me.

They are very interested in the things we do. They like to hear about our adventures to other countries and what the kids are doing. I think they have been to 2 states in their lives and never left the country. Maybe they like the stories, or maybe they just like watching us tell them. We use a lot of hands when we talk and we're fast. It's probably a little like watching a hummingbird. Or kangaroos boxing.

Either way, they like to talk with us and they have lots to add. She told me about wild blackberries in the forest. Not black raspberries but real blackberries. I asked her to show me where they were and she said she couldn't remember. I know her better than that. She could probably sense some freestyle trail running in my eyes and decided it was better to play the memory card.

Their house is super old. I mean, the inside is super old. They have a formal room with furniture that nobody has sat in for 50 years. It has a piano that plays itself and all kinds of old lamps and pictures. It's almost museum like.

She always tries to give me yeast. By the bucketful. Then I remind her of my bread making abilities and she quickly puts it away. Then we head home until the next time we get their mail.

They have been fun neighbors to have and get to know. I will be sad to see them go, but glad they lived such an active and fulfilling life...right up to the end.


Anonymous said...

Hi my name is Nicole. First I just want to say what a great blog you have! That story made me laugh and cry! You truly are very lucky to live by and know quite well such an amazing couple. Our elders are so essential in our lives and have so much to teach us! My late grandather was 85 and I truly miss his stories and the advice he had on life:( Keep the stories coming!!!!

Lydia said...

Oh wow, they sound like a super great couple! I love their energy and your stories made me just want to sit down and learn from them. Older people have so much wisdom that we often miss. Thanks for sharing this...it was a day brightener.

Jessica-MomForHim said...

What a great story! Thanks for sharing. :-)

Emelie said...

so cute & funny!

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