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Sadness Grows as Friends Move on

Pauline Nevins  October 2, 2021 - Auburn Journal


Everyone’s leaving. Well, not everyone. I exaggerate when I’m sad.

First off was Jeane, our neighbor for more than 15 years. Jeane hosted a meet-up for neighbors shortly after we moved to the foothills from Elk Grove. The event included a music recital held in her dance studio. In the following years, we attended performances by an array of talented artists – recitals on the baby grand, singers, violinists. It was wonderful.

It surprised me when Jeane announced she was moving out of state. She’s 80 years old and lived in the same house since the 1970s.

Aren’t elders supposed to be afraid of change? Dragged out of their homes kicking and screaming? But I should have known better. Over the years, Jeane shared snippets of her life during our dinners together. I learned more when I volunteered to draft her autobiography.

Once a week, I clicked open a rickety wooden gate and crossed the canal that led to Jeane’s back door, careful to dodge the Canada geese droppings. She and I sipped aromatic teas, surrounded by artistic mementos from her world travels. I took notes on a steno pad, enthralled with her tales.

After a year, I handed her a rough draft, admitting someone more experienced should weave the transcription into a professional product. The result is her autobiography, Short Stories and Small Miracles. The book’s description captures the variety and breadth of her life, “From New York to the Hollywood stage, from rituals with Native American elders … to Rudolf Steiner’s work in Dornach, Switzerland … to meeting the Dalai Lama …” Our friend was ready for yet another adventure.

Not long after Jeane’s departure, other friends announced they were moving to Florida. What? Hadn’t Ron and Sue heard the humor columnist Dave Barry admit Florida was weird? That it was a statistical fact that with 6 percent of the nation’s population, the state produces 57 percent of the nation’s weirdness?

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