My neighbor Angelo turns 91 this week. I met met him just a year ago during one of my morning walks. He lives four or five doors down with one of his kids. They built a father-in-law suite for him several years ago, and since then several times a week I  run into him walking. We wave as we pass–like the proverbial ships in the night– an acknowledgement but no real communication. Although sometimes he shouts, “Its a beautiful day” or “GodBless!”

    Then one morning in early October he approached me and very excitedly announced, “Tomorrow I’m turning 90.” I was flabbergasted; he was 10 to 15 years older than I would have guessed. He’s a short, deeply tanned man with an erect posture and a steady gait. He doesn’t shuffle like most men his age. He walks a couple hundred yards up the street and then back several times a week. He dresses like a teenage surfer–levi shorts and colorful O’Neill t-shirts. He wears a large wooden cross around his neck suspended on a rawhide cord.  His blue eyes are as clear and as peaceful as an early Autumn sky.

     We spoke for a while and he told me about his remarkable life. He was a survivor of the brutal air combat over Europe during WWII. He was the ball turret gunner on a B-17. Not many know that the 8th Air Force’s casualty rate was over 50%.  And so Angelo was a survivor, but more importantly, in my eyes, a hero. He acknowledged that he was lucky to have survived the war and he gave the credit to God.    

    He moved to Deltona from NY in the 1960s when Deltona was just a few dozen block houses lost in the piney woods.  I can’t recall for sure what he did for a living or why he moved to Florida. He made it clear that his faith was the most important thing in his life and that’s what impressed me. Being Italian he was probably reared a Catholic but in Florida he attended a Methodist church and sang in their choir. I knew about the choir because one day he was wearing a t-shirt advertising the choir. Catholic or Methodist, somehow I don’t think the right dogma was of any importance to Angelo. He’s a man who loves God and loves life. Seeing him trudging up the street a couple times a week gives me hope–I describe it as “another near life experience” in a youtube video I did back on Jan 1.

    Happy Birthday, Angelo – hope you have many more !


About diospsytrek

I am a licensed mental health counselor in Florida. I am also the author of four books. The books have to do with coping with depression and other mood disorders, and the nexus of psychological problems and spiritual warfare.
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One Response to Angelo

  1. Barbara DeVanna says:

    I spoke with my neighbor, Jean, today as I was tending my yard. She is now in her eighties. I met her 17 years ago when she was perhaps my age. She was focused on making the last leg of her walk for the day. For years, I have seen she and George, taking 2 miles in the AM, 2 miles in the evening. She told me today – George has given up, he fell a couple of days ago and hurt his hip but she must get her 1500 miles per year end and time is “wastin”. She and George have been the quintessential neighbors. They lived on this street when it was but a dirt road, raised six children who are all successful – go to Kenya on Safari, travel to Jerusalem, ski in Colorado. He a retired Engineer from Martin-Marietta, she a retired teacher. Lovlier people, you will not meet.

    It now bothers me that she says George’s memory is not as sharp as it was and not as sharp as he would like; I ask “does it bother him?” to which she replies, yes, of late, it does.

    My Sons’ Dad was not available, we had a function at St. Luke’s which required him wearing a tie. I was panicked as I didn’t know how to tie a tie – then I thought, George would know how to tie a tie. I got the clearance to come after dinner that evening and George would show my Son the intricacies of tying a tie.

    He has this peculiar “whistle” when doing anything – I hear him when he is pulling my weeds from his perfectly coiffed yard, or washing the car.

    To this day, when my Son ties a tie – he whistles.

    I say all of that to say this – care for your neighbors, they are a treasure when you need an egg or cup of sugar, a telephone # of a district representative, when is the next board meeting of the neighborhood association, I cried on her shoulder one time about my errant Son, she, likewise cried on mine because of the “rascal” their beloved daughter had married. They look out for my property and I theirs.

    It just occured to me today that these beautiful, genuine folks may not be around much longer and it makes me sad.

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