October 24, 2014

June moved today.  June is our 93-year-old, two-doors-down neighbor. While I think she’ll be far better off at Covell Gardens, I’m a little sorry to see her go.

She and her husband (who died long ago) owned the house on A Street, but she lived in their home in Willowbank until 2000 when she decided to downsize and move back to the central Davis neighborhood. For the last 14 years, she lived with Tracy the pitbull, who had ridiculously bad arthritis and was grossly overweight, and Charlie the stray cat. Each of them is/was ancient; it was anyone’s guess who’d go first. Tracy gave up the ghost about six weeks ago, which was truly sad. She was a sweet dog but, wow, in a lot of discomfort.. could barely get up and down, in and out, couldn’t hear. Charlie’s still roaming around, but I can’t imagine for much longer. June will probably live to be a hundred!

For the last few years, I’ve been helping her out here and there, mostly with shopping and errands. It’s not unusual to find her at our doorstep, rapping on the front door with her cane (a distinctly unique sound), seeking assistance with a jar lid or to decipher some legaleezy notice that’s come in the mail. She might call us over to reset a thermostat or look for a dropped hearing aid or figure out why her cable is out. I liked doing those things and was glad she asked. At Covell Gardens, she’ll have people for that.

It was really only a few years ago that she started to lose a lot of her independence and had to give up driving and playing golf (she was a great player with a really low handicap and played mostly at the Flyer’s Club). But man, in spite of severely compromised mobility, and diminished hearing and eyesight, she managed pretty well around the house and yard. I’m impressed that she didn’t have more falls and accidents… a few, but not many. Tough bird, that June.

People make very compelling arguments for aging in place and I think a lot of her longevity and endurance comes from having to manage on her own so much of the time. Still, in her case, I think she’ll be better off in a place that’s got round the clock meals, cleaning and laundry service, maintenance people at your beck and call, staff drivers and so on.  She seems very ready and willing to make the transition to an easier life.

I wish I could remember all of June’s stories. She was born and raised in Davis.  Her mom may also have been born here.  Her father was a dairy farmer (Silva family, I believe) and she did a lot of work on their farm, but she lived, interestingly, at the corner of 3rd and C. Her grandmother, or mother, I’m not sure which, planted that huge heritage elm tree near the corner on what is now AT&T property. Over the years, she told me a lot about Davis’ pioneer families and life in the olden days. I should have written down some of those stories!!

Amusingly, 3rd and C is also the corner on which David Breaux stands (stood), my good friend the compassion advocate. I could never really bring myself to tell June about any of the happenings at that corner–David’s work, the Compassion Corner Earthbench–because she’d just literally shit a brick. While she’s an interesting woman with hundreds of great stories to tell, her life’s experience is limited to Davis. She traveled out of town very rarely, preferring to stay where she was comfortable. It’s fair to say she had a low tolerance for diversity. She did not suffer fools gladly, nor anyone really.  Those who know her, know her to be cranky and opinionated. Most of the time, I decided to overlook her off color remarks because she needed my help more than I needed to set her straight.


This is June, on the left. She’s actually talking to my mom, up for Thanksgiving a year ago.



I do have to say, though it’s not evident here, she’s got a great (if rare) smile.  I’ve also lately concluded that her bark is a lot more vicious than her bite. It’s possible that she is softening a little as her dependence on others increases.

I’m also thinking our visits will be far more relaxing now that she’s living at Covell Gardens. I imagine we’ll go to lunch a lot more often. And I’ll see what I can do about writing down some of her stories.

5 Responses to “June”

  1. I enjoyed reading about June. An elderly woman neighbor of mine just made the same transition. I miss having her next door. Her house is still for sale…. I have another elderly neighbor on the other side who is still plugging away but needs our help with things too. The fire dept has been by a few times to help her when she has “fallen and can’t get up.” She wears a life alert. The strong women really amaze me. I wonder how I will be at their age….

    • Kari Says:

      I’m thinking about that a lot, too, MA. I am especially compelled by aging in place. I recently visited the parents of one of my friends who have a home in the country. They thrive out there largely because it’s a lot of work to manage their space (cut, split, stack wood, for example) and they have to fend for themselves. It’s a lot of pioneer spirit. Even my mom who lives in suburbia has to rely on herself to keep it all going. I think that has both physical and emotional/mental value. And both (my friend’s parents and my mom) are in an environment so peaceful and simple. Aesthetically inspiring, serene. I think that’s important. Particularly my friend’s parents… far away from the services we are lead to believe we need immediate access to. Maybe we in the western world are so quick to find solutions to problems, we find solutions to problems we don’t even have. And our emphasis is on longevity, long past quality of life.

      And I am with you, I totally wonder how we’ll navigate those waters.

  2. Jacqueline Says:

    Many of our aging neighbors are lucky to have a door like yours to rap on. Sure hope that neither June nor any remaining friends and/or family in Davis follow your blog, though! Pretty straight talk.

    • Kari Says:

      You might be right about that, Jacqueline (does everyone call you Jake? I feel presumptuous, not knowing for sure). I assume nobody reads it and ramble & muse liberally… but I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. She is a very strong personality and one of my challenges has been to know where my moral lines are with her… meaning… can I be friends with someone who says horrible things about other human beings… should I bring it up, should I let it pass, how to respond kindly and softly so as to make clear what is tolerable in a relationship and what is not. I defaulted to letting her comments pass, given her age and life experience and the thinness of our relationship (meaning, we are the most casual of neighbors, not really more than that. Over the few years I spent a lot of time with her, however, I realized a lot of what she said was knee-jerk stuff and may not have been truly from her heart. Not certain. I do know it was not amusing.

      I think, however, I’ll soften my comments. Out of respect.

  3. basykes Says:

    Another face to look for ar CG!

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