My mom lives in a 55+ community. Built predominantly in the 1960’s, Sun City started as a concept-project that is now home to thousands of retirees. Visit there, and you walk into a living time capsule. This is an orderly community, with tidy ranch homes mostly unaltered since the day they were built. In this desert environment (which receives less than a foot of rain a year), green lawns are plentiful, and you can hear whirring sprinklers as the sun rises. Some homes without a grassy lawn have painted their rocky front yards green. Overly-tanned seniors fly down the wide, winding streets on golf carts. It is a world of painted wrought iron, driveways embellished with marquis designs on the concrete, “Welcome to the Paulsen’s'” signs and garden gnomes. At Christmas time, the plentiful saguaro and the palm are wrapped with twinkling white lights. This is where the “retire in the Sun Belt” movement started.This is a place to fall in love for a second (or third, or fourth) time, to learn a new hobby, to play golf all winter while your friends shiver in the North. This is where you come to live life, a new beginning after decades in the workplace.
This is also where you come to die.
There seems little evidence, in this town of vigorous senior citizens and blazing sunshine, of death looming close. But yes, this is the end of the road for many of its inhabitants, and if you look closer, you see the shadow side: Previously well-lit homes go dark. Signs on every block for estate sales or real estate listings.
In this town seemingly frozen in the late 1960’s, time still marches forward.
Mom came to Sun City for employment, and for the bright future promised once her working days ended. Most likely she will die there, and perhaps much earlier than any of us anticipated, before she was able to cash-in on the benefits of a long, happy, healthy retirement. But I’m happy that she is there, in a peaceful sunny place. Her doctors are excellent, her community of friends outstanding. The future we hoped for is far from guaranteed, but there is good in the present.