Everybody knows Covid changed the pattern of our lives. So too have the crevices now cracking the political landscape of our country. Neighbors used to be friends, adults mixing with kids, young and old mixing with each other. Does that closeness still exist as it did before? Has that difference had an effect on our lives? Perhaps stats cannot answer those questions as well as one’s own experiences. Here are a few of mine.
Our neighbor in the adjoining house for many years was JoAnne Caulfield née Apgar, (self-styled as Josie), until the divorce between her and her husband, John Caulfield, whom you know from previous podcasts. It took some doing but Lois and I remained friendly with both after their split. JoAnne is a real character. One time she arrived home while her house was being burgled. Lois and I ran to our window to see her chasing the thief, axe in hand. Lucky for him he outran her. JoAnne scoped me out in record time, hanging the appellation “Little Lord” around my neck forever. But there was a lot of love in the name. We shared good times. Like when we went together to Symphony Hall to hear the sainted Italian conductor, Claudio Abbado, conduct an orchestra made up of some of Europe’s most gifted young players. It proved to be one of the best concerts ever, the applause drawing encores until midnight! JoAnne’s uniqueness was accentuated by her dress. Let’s start with one sock never matching another, and a plethora of earrings in each ear. Listen to this podcast to hear the rest of JoAnne’s eye-catching and mind pleasing attire. We often shared Thanksgiving. On one of them, unbeknownst to any of the revealers until years later, she dropped the cooked turkey on the way from her house to ours, scooped it up, and placed it on the table as though nothing had happened. We loved every bite that day. Joanne (and John) are a generation younger than Lois and me. That was irrelevant to our friendship. One could ask if it would have flourished in today’s environment? JoAnne’s other moments were spent in her exacting work as a cardiac catheter nurse at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where I am supposing she wore more traditional garb, although often navigating her way there on a bike in heavy traffic.
Just before Covid struck we invited our other next-door neighbors, the Schmiders, Eric and Angie (née Bair), and their beautiful kids, Hanna and Jules, over for dinner. For starters, after being introduced to me, wild Jules draped himself all over me, then when asked to repeat my name, said, “Lois,” with a devilish grin on his face. As dinner progressed Jules showed a big interest in the key to our antique tall glassware cabinet, Generous Lois ran upstairs and returned with the striking and oversized key her father had mistakenly taken from the famed Hotel Excelsior in Rome, and presented it to Jules. Hanna seemed a bit distressed, so Lois ran upstairs again, and returned with TWO necklaces for Hanna, one of pearls. Hanna and Jules left displaying their presents in a state of euphoria. Soon cards arrived with their colorful drawings and inscriptions saying, “We love you.” Needless to say friendships were sealed that day which remain to this day.
The same warm friendship exists with Patrick (son of JoAnne and John), wife Aileen, nee Lee, and their terrific four-year-old daughter, Olivia, who continue the long Caulfield presence in that house. Patrick rates as the best Dad ever, Aileen as the smartest Mom ever, and both among our greatest friends ever. Aileen named Lois and me as surrogate Grandpappy and Grandmammy to Olivia because of the geographical distance of John and Joanne.
Lois and I often remark how lucky we are to be still living the same life we always have at our advanced ages. How much of that results from these friendships no one can accurately assess, but I’m willing to say those and others we enjoy, account for a significant part!