Considering Neighbors, Tractors and Time

| 12/19/2008 6:03:15 PM


My neighbor Bill is a great asset to me. He understands machines. When one of my machines isn’t running and I have no idea how to fix it (pretty much every time), I can ask Bill and get a reasonable, logical and well-informed set of directions. Typically, just what I need. In his own shop he has a Farmall H tractor he’s restored, a garden tractor he built from scratch and a 2,000-pound belt-driven drill press he picked up somewhere. His place is immaculate and Bill’s just about the fittest 80-year-old you’ll ever meet.

Bill spends most of his time caring for his wife, Beverly, who has Parkinson’s Disease. I tell Bill she’s lucky to have him. He says he’s lucky to have her.

Beverly’s taken a turn for the worse since she had knee surgery recently, and the other day a for-sale sign showed up on Bill’s lawn. He told me they’re moving into a retirement home. He’s decided he needs a little more help to give Beverly the life they want for her.

He invited me over to look at some of his farm equipment and tools he won’t need any more.

“I have a lot of projects, but I guess I ran out of time,” he said.

Allison Fine_1
4/20/2009 4:29:25 PM

This makes me very sad. I wonder how old Bill is. It seems it would be so much better if neighbors, family and friends could take turns caring for Bill and his wife and allow them to stay in their home. It's very sacrificial of him to be willing to give up his normal, healthy life for a retirement home when his spouse is the one who requires the care. This is the kind of real, unselfish love we seldom see. At the same time, if we had a better "tribal/village" community-minded culture, it wouldn't be necessary for the Bill's of our world to do this--we could all work together for the good of the community to keep people engaged and in their homes. Maybe even helping to pay for part time nursing care would be better! Does Bill have any siblings or other family to help? I just want to scour my mind for solutions other than Bill resigning himself to life being, essentially, over.

4/19/2009 9:48:17 AM

I'm 39 and my husband is 55. Our neighbors (2 houses) are in their 80's. My husband spends alot of time with the men around here; their own families have left the area years ago, with no prospect of returning. With me working full time away from home and my husband, Robert, here all day long, it is natural for him to look in on the folks regularly by being a friend. Robert is always full of questions about gardening, weather, etc. And then, he is a huge American history buff that just to sit and listen to war stories and such really make his day! And I think it makes everyone elses' day too. We are 2000 miles from our nearest relatives and have no children. I can only hope that the next generation cares as much.

Andrew Mooers
3/31/2009 8:34:16 AM

Back to the land movements are caused by necessity and by a strong tug on the heart to raise critters, crops, kids a healthy, self sufficient way. Back in the 1800's, most of us were farmers so in our blood. Tight economy makes the lifestyle option more popular than ever but timing and age have a bearing on the decision. Farming is not all glamorous but you learn a respect for the weather, being efficient with your time and resources and creating something out of the good earth.

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