One thing I have always known about writing is that you write best about a subject or time that has had impact afterwards, and not during the event. Looking back at the five weeks in Leesburg, Fl I feel like I did not accurately depict the experience that I had, and I am not sure that I will be able to do that for a while. I would like to touch on a few details though.
When one would take a first glance at the Holiday Travel Resort, immediately they might feel like they stepped into the movie Cocoon. If you look back at that movie it was humorous, heartwarming, and has a magical feel about it. A lot of you may wonder what Hana and I might see in living around a bunch of old people as opposed to living in a busy area with the young hipster crowd. We both found we actually liked it better. We were already sick of the hipsters in Ann Arbor that acted like they were putting on a lifestyle/ fashion show. It was a relief to be in an area that nobody was trying to impress everyone. Everyone that passed by waved and said hello. You could sit in a hot tub and have a great conversation with someone decades older than you. Most of all despite age and levels of income people just all seemed to be on the same level. Our neighbors that were from Canada were offering help in the first hour of us being there. When they saw we didn't have a mat in front of our door they let us borrow theirs. Our lock was broken on the door for the first few days we were there, but we never once worried about breaking in. In fact, we found that most people didn't even lock their doors.
I also have to make a note that once I stepped in the bathroom and heard an old guy singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow as if he were singing it in front of an audience that he wanted to make cry. It is these small moments of sincerity that you have to look at with nothing but respect. It brought great joy to my heart to hear that old man sing a song like that.
As for my friend Ronnie, I don't think I gave him enough justice in a few lines, and don't think I could even in a few chapters. He is the type of character a writer wishes they could think of, but yet the type of character that should be respected and appreciated in the moment. The morning we were leaving he was at our door in his golf cart offering help to pack us up to ease any tension that could happen between a couple on the day they leave a place. He said his former wife would always be mad when they were leaving and would pick a fight over anything. I have to be truthful in saying that travel days can sometimes have a few bumps in the road between us. I cannot rightfully depict his southern drawl, nor half the phrases he would say that would be humorous and simple, but at the same time more profound than something you would hear a professor say to an overcrowded room to a bunch of kids that are only half interested in what he has to say. Ronnie was a sincere guy with a big heart who is doing the best he can to get through this life. I was always at ease talking with him, and sincerely regretted that I didn't spend more time with him. I planned on it, but the time went by so fast and it was over. Nonetheless, I have been keeping in contact with Ronnie by phone, and he drops in on my dad in the park often now. I knew Ronnie had been in a motorcycle accident twenty something years ago and lost his leg, but one detail my dad learned about him was that after he had a blood transfusion he was able to pick up a guitar and play it when he was unable to even strum a chord before.
Since most of you know what dog lovers we are I do have to say that I was also able to form a bond with Gabby, my dad's thirteen year old Scnauzer. She would always bark when I would come to the door. By the last week she wouldn't bark at all. As Gabby is a part of the family, I find myself missing her too.
And again I have to touch on the fact that it was hard to leave my father. I have woken up the past few mornings heartbroken when I realized I couldn't just walk over and sit with my dad in the shade in the afternoon, or that he wouldn't be dropping by on his golf cart with his dog Gabby to take Frankie and I for a ride. My message to all of you is to appreciate the small moments in life, because oftentimes you will find later that they were a lot bigger than you thought. My other message would be is you just don't know who people really are, or what message they could have for you. As I said, I cannot at this time accurately describe the magic I felt the past five weeks, but if I could share with you a fraction of the light that warmed my heart then I did a lot.