There are times during the week when I see situations with people that cause a bit of sadness with me. I speak about how some people are so much into themselves and/or their immediate families and circle of friends that they become blind to the people around them. I notice it more during Winter than other times of the year because many of us just don’t like doing any more than we absolutely have to outdoors. Today was a great example of the carelessness of very young neighbors of homes that are vacant and they don’t even make an attempt to shovel a path down the sidewalk to meet likely a walk of a neighbor who does. I’ll never forget a client who’s name was Zella and she owned a home here in Mason City since the time she divorced her husband and moved to California when she was relatively young with her only child. She strung me along a bit in causing me to “think” she would list her home here with me and by that, caused me to do more than what was normally expected from a real estate agent. Years passed and I found that I was making sure the yard was mowed and the front sidewalk was shoveled each time it snowed. I empathized with her because she was trapped in her apartment and kept her mind active with likely only the memories of the past. Her only child lived far away and she rarely spoke about him. I knew after several years that she didn’t have any more money than what her Social Security check provided each month. I would send her a letter at least once a year, have a phone conversation with her likely two or three times a year and just continue to do what I made a choice to do for her. I will never forget the phone call I received from her son whom I had never spoken with during those years. He called the office and asked for me and as chance would have it I was out. When our secretary handed me the note and upon reading it, I knew something was wrong with Zella.
I returned the call and was informed by her son that Zella was dead. He said he was going through her letters and found the letters that I had written to her and read every one of them. He said his mother was very guarded whenever speaking about Mason City and the home she owned here. Thus, he knew nearly nothing about the home that he now owned. Well, he listed the property with me and it was sold almost immediately to a family that to this day continues on a journey of improvements. I speak of Zella and others not in a sense of being proud, but rather just stepping back and realizing that there are those in need. I will tell you and I mean it without resign; I never expected to get the listing on that home and especially sell it myself. And as a footnote, Zella’s home was vacant and lifeless, but when I was measuring and investigating all the rooms and closets, I found a very old and dusty three-legged stool. In conversation with Zella’s son, I mentioned the stool. He said, “Take it as remembrance of my mother and most certainly as a token of appreciation for the work you freely did for her.” If every one of us in Mason City and North Iowa would have more of a selfless sense of community, then we would likely be in the top ten best places to live in the United States. By the way, I never met Zella in all those years.