HOFFSTEDT: A brief but meaningful friendship

For quite a few years, I lived on a short, winding street with many condo units. It was a community inhabited by some couples, but also many single people, both men and women. Almost everyone was retired, but involved in many activities.
Jul 8, 2014


During that time, I had gotten to know a few people on our street primarily because of my serving on the condo association’s board of directors for many of those years.

I have many close friends that I’ve known for a long time — some for more than 60 years — but I was never able to connect with anyone in our private little community until one summer.

Early one spring morning, I saw a poster taped to our common mailbox. It said that if anyone on our street would be interested in watching some excellent DVDs relating to art and music, please call Bob. I had seen his name on our condo address and phone number sheet, and I didn’t know who he was. I called, and Bob gave me the details as to the day and time when the first DVD would be shown.  

The day arrived, and I showed up at Bob’s right on time. We introduced ourselves and sat talking, hoping that we would hear from other neighbors. We never did.

Bob and I spent the most enjoyable summer and early fall together viewing presentations on The Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the History of Music. We met almost daily during the week. Besides viewing the DVDs, we also spent time talking about our families and our careers. We found out that we had many common subjects that interested both of us — such as books, science and sports.

When I first met Bob in the spring, he seemed reasonably healthy for a man in his mid-80s, but as time went on, I noticed a slow deterioration in his overall health. Various therapists began coming to his home, so we scheduled our time together so as to not interfere with those visits. Even so, he was determined we should finish those three series, and we did. 

When we were done, he wanted to do another series. We both agreed that one on Egypt would be a good subject. Bob ordered the DVDs, printed out some posters and I taped them to our common mailboxes as he had done in the spring.

This time, we were pleasantly surprised when two ladies who lived close to us signed up for this new program. 

The four of us met on a Thursday evening in November and watched and discussed a lecture on Egyptian writing. He even wrote all of our names in Egyptian. 

That evening, Bob informed us that he would have to move into an assisted living facility because of his health. It was close by, and he asked us if we would be willing to visit him and continue watching the series in his new place. We all agreed to do that. He said he would call us in a few days and arrange a new meeting time. 

The last thing Bob said to us as we were leaving was, “So long, thanks for coming, and I’ll see you next week.”

The next day, Friday, Bob left us. His health problems were just too much for him. 

I reflect fondly on those few months that Bob and I had together — only a few months out of two long lifetimes. How ironic as to how we met and how pleasant it was. 

I will miss Bob. My only regret is that we didn’t meet sooner.

So long, good neighbor.

— By Richard Hoffstedt, Tribune community columnist


Jean Knight

Thank you for sharing of your friendship with Bob. I remember him slightly I agree that we as neighbors do not have close friendships. That is sad & disappointing. Doug & I tried when we first moved here. Christmas open house & a ladies luncheon. All we got in return was a reprimand for having the wrong storm door. However, I do like my condo. Jean Knight


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