A sense of community spirit

September 22, 2013

Connie from Rehoboth writes, “There is a promise of change I look forward to every fall. In the days following Labor Day, the traffic lessened, the air seemed to still, the regions' energy calmed down, but what I liked most was more politeness and smiles appeared. More people waved other cars in front of them, and more people opened doors for each other…also there are few enough people that you can run into people you know.”

Connie expresses what many of us feel. Three years ago, I was one of those tourists everyone wanted to send back to whatever state I came from. Now I am grateful to live here year round, and when I look at the license plates of cars I pass from neighboring states, I am proud of my Delaware license plate because I have a sense of belonging to this seaside community.

Connie goes on to say, “This is the time of year when I think ahead, planning for that neglected hobby that is done during the off-season.” Neglected hobbies haunt all of us at times. My husband Rayquest recently conquered a neglected table that his grandfather Otto from Switzerland hand welded in the early 1950s. That family heirloom got three fresh coats of black paint and is now sheltered on the protected porch. We like to think his efforts made his grandfather happier just as it gave Ray satisfaction to complete it! So I retrieved a box from the garage labeled Swiss things and out came a cowbell. Just ringing it brought joy to my heart.

Hilda retired from a government job 10 years ago and wrote to say she liked my story about a challenge to park a stick shift in a steep garage. “I failed my driver’s test three times because I couldn’t parallel park. I had to write to you and tell you that the other day I parallel parked right in downtown Lewes! And I was close to the curb too!” Way to go, Hilda.

Speaking of Lewes, it was the place to be last Sunday! We watched the Dragon Boat racers compete to raise money for Sussex Academy. There were 21 teams with full boats containing 20 rowers, a drummer and a professional helmsman that took turns racing the 350 meters down the canal to see who had the fastest time. “It is all about synchronization. It’s not size and age that matters,” said Cindy DeEmedio, the captain of the Natural Dragon Ladies team.

The event not only raised money for Sussex Academy charter school, it raised the mood of an entire community on a brilliant, sunny September Sunday. We enjoyed a Dogfish beer and a chicken curry salad from Nage and proudly cheered for the Sussex Academy as well as teams from Cape Gazette, Striper Bites and a host of other local businesses.

The Retirement 101 column is celebrating the end of one year this issue, and I want to thank the readers who have supported me by sharing their stories with all of us. I have learned a lot about myself on this retirement journey. It takes time to feel like you belong to a community.

Like Connie, I love it when I run into a person I know, which happens more frequently now. It is always my attitude toward anything I do which makes me feel content. I am recalling a corny commercial which ran for years in the metropolitan area. In it a gray-haired lady smiles at the camera and says, “I get up every morning and I choose to be happy!” Sounds simple, but it takes practice.

Please share your journey with me at