A Death in Friars Cliff

 In pensioners

Friars Cliff has experienced a death. His name was John. Ann and I would speak to him whenever we met, often when he was accompanied by a carer. He was walking to, or back, from the sea, and we running towards the coast. In our six years here, we only knew him severely affected by a stroke. He could walk and talk, but not well. He was never without a smile and a twinkle in his eye and was always elated to be in the sunshine.

Changing Neighbourhoods

John was part of our circle and yet we knew almost nothing about him. The sadness is that when we attended his funeral, his past swept over us like a wave. It was a story of success at work, a good marriage, children full of gratitude and the joy of his grandchildren. Later in his life he had cared for his wife in her last illness and then experienced two strokes before his death at 83 years of age.

Cul de Sac Dynamics

We are two cul de sacs with 35 properties, a mix of houses and bungalows and a high average age. That is enough people to form a community. The dynamics of how two neighbours meet and interact, and how relationships develop, is fascinating. Some of our neighbours have been close to reclusive, even grumpy, but that is their prerogative. That never stopped us offering support and even doing some jobs for them. Others have been more inviting, friendly, a coffee now and then, but no more. Much deeper friendships have developed but it is not easy to say why, what it is that creates friendships. Whatever, the cul de sacs are a fine place to live.

The Nosy Neighbour

John was on the periphery of our world, no more than a presence. Ann and I are on the periphery of many of our neighbours, the aged runners who pass by, often chat, but are otherwise virtually unknown. We, as it were, make ourselves available but the dynamic requires action from the other party; it takes two to tango. Is this right? Should we be more inquisitive, more inclined to tease out information, to identify loneliness or other issues? Where does this cross over into nosiness?

The New Environment

A death in Friars Cliff is both sad and a concern for neighbours. I note how people fret over the death and then the now empty property. Will this be sold and, if so, will the new owners be young? Here, young is under 60 years old. Worse, will there be noise, whether from children, cars or motorbikes? Will the family sell or will they use the property as a holiday home? It all matters when a neighbour has died and the local environment is changed. Farewell John, we will miss you and so will the street.

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