I just wrote a check for three more memorial tributes. They’ve been leaving for several years now. My mother was among the first. But the pace has so accelerated in these past months and now three in the space of two weeks. The village is disappearing.
This was an extraordinary place, this rural university town where at one time the students outnumbered the towns people. A place where couples came to start and finish their academic careers. A place where their children went through school together. Where the twelve-year club was almost as big as the high school graduating class. Where for better or worse everyone knew everyone else and everyone else’s business. Where in the summer time the twenty six kids in our neighborhood roamed the streets, building forts in empty lots, scavenging parts for our go carts, and playing kick-the-can until long after dark. Where we never locked our doors.
It’s a nostalgic reality I step into every time I go home, most recently to settle my dad’s estate. The woman selling Dad’s house is a long time family friend, her parents and my parents used to go on Jazz cruises together, her younger brother and I were in the same high school graduating class. I remember her sister was a high school cheerleader. Such is the way of this village.
Walking into the retirement place to pick up Dad for lunch my sister and I encountered a man taking his mother grocery shopping. After a double take it was discovered this man and my sister were in the same class in high school. Such is the way of this village.
The couple buying Dad’s house are moving to town because he has accepted a position in the same department where my dad began his career. He was one of dad’s students. Such is the way of this village.
But I wonder if they will stay sixty years as Dad has, as so many did. To become truly part of this village, to be this village. Because most don’t anymore. They come and go, staying only a few years until the next career move.
And now, one by one, the village is vanishing.