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Living with Other Old People

Corky Cummings


Fourteen years ago Patti and I moved into a Senior community called The Gallery in San Clemente, CA. We were both 57 then and most of the residents were in their 70’s or close to it. A lot of people have moved to assisted living facilities since we moved in so the average age of those still here is deceased (just kidding). 

We have made many friends in The Gallery so there are plenty of doctor recommendations that are available when needed. There are numerous people who have had similar medical issues to what we are dealing with and they are more than willing to share their experiences. However, it seems that their stories drag on and we hardly have time to discuss what is ailing us. I learned quickly after moving here that I don’t dare ask anyone how they are doing because there is rarely a short version.

Seniors for the most part do not like change, especially if there are dollar signs attached. A group of “younger” residents who are still semi-mobile recently attempted to convince the community that a new Pickleball court would increase property values because it has become such a popular game among older people. Since about 98% of the current owners don’t play the game, it had as much of a chance of being approved as I have of paying my way to fly into space in one of Jeff Bezos’ rockets. I think the fear of an additional $5 that might be added to the monthly homeowner assessment overloaded most of their blood pressure monitors.

Our next door neighbor is a member of the HOA Board of Directors and she has totally poured her life into the duties and responsibilities that go with the position. Any conversation with her usually centers around topics like someone who tried to plant geraniums in their front flower bed (which is not an approved community flower) or a resident who painted their window shutters the wrong color. Most residents who serve as a Director do so for two years and then feel like the weight of the world has been lifted when their term expires because all they deal with is complaints. Our neighbor, however, seems to thrive on the conflicts and will soon run for a fourth term. Personally, my sanity is more important than responding to a resident’s wrath because the coffee machine in the clubhouse wasn’t working when their Bridge club met.

One thing you have to be careful about living here is getting pigeonholed into performing a particular task. A couple of years ago a couple was moving to Reno and some of their friends had a going away party for them. I was asked to speak and my comments got a few laughs so I have now become the designated host for numerous community functions. It’s not something that I dislike but a person can only be witty and creative for so long. I am more than willing to share the floor with anyone who might step up, but so far there have been no volunteers.  

Even though I have mostly pointed out negative details, The Gallery is not too bad of a place to live. For the most part the people here are supportive and always willing to offer a hand if needed, which is important because you never know when you might need a ride to a doctor’s appointment.