Not Your Grandmother’s Retirement Home

I have newfound respect for people in retirement.
Thanks solely to social media, my partner’s 66 year-old father, in the last couple of years, was able to reconnect with his childhood friend who now lives in Canada. During winter months though the friend lives in Florida — Dade City to be exact. Not far from Orlando, we made the trek to see him and soon found out he lived in a senior citizens community. Surprised is an understatement. It was a million miles away from any impression of an old folks home I had before.

As we drove around his neighborhood, we saw a collection of small, medium, and large RVs, campers, mobile homes, house trailers, and even some Meet The Fockers buses. I especially loved the classic Airstream campers that were everywhere – I could only imagine how much those cost. It was great to see all these laid out neat and organized, and numbering enough to form a whole community.

Since we visited on a Sunday, we got invited to ‘an ice-cream social’ at the nearby community hall. I didn’t know what to expect. Once we got there I was a bit out of place — I felt like an interloper. The hall was the size of a warehouse and entirely full of retirees, with everyone happy or at least seemingly happy to be there. Ice cream night is popular apparently!
It’s been forever and a day since I can say I was one of the youngest people in a room.
Not only was there ice cream, there was also entertainment! A live jazz performance – and a good one at that – sang to a huge part of the crowd that stayed. I didn’t realize retired baby boomers in Florida were so musically-inclined. The show lasted a bit too long for my comfort but I certainly couldn’t walk out while everyone else stayed to listen.

It’s easy to make fun of the situation, after all, Florida is famous as God’s waiting room. The cynic that I am, I was this close to being my usual snide self but after meeting some of the residents and getting to know about this part of their lives it made me realize how stupid my preconceptions were, and how I can only wish to be in their position if and when I’m lucky enough to face the inevitable.

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