Lost an old friend last week. Actually a relatively new friend who just happened to be old. He lived across the hallway. If Charles Dickens were to describe him, he would be a curmudgeon. Mr. Twas indeed the epitome of someone termed to be cantankerous.

I was assigned to a dining hall table where he sat with three ladies. [Note: I said “sat with,” not shared.] Obviously it’s a hit-or-miss proposition whether a pleasant climate can prevail three meals a day, seven days a week, when strangers meet. You never know. But you don’t have to be Judge Judy to know when someone doesn’t like you; it was a brave move to ask for the salt and pepper shakers. But once he became aware of a shared interest in sports and keeping abreast of world news, a slow thaw began.

Mr. T had a bad word for everything and everybody: Obama was going to ruin America, worse yet, he wasn’t even a citizen; The Los Angeles Times was a lousy newspaper, much too liberal. Keiro Retirement Home came in for its share of criticism: Wasted too much electricity and water, soup always too tepid. Rather than argue or debate, I deemed it wise to simply listen and nod.

He had been a career gardener with high-end clientele, never used a blower. Besides watching people come and go from his ground-floor apartment, his only other hobby was photography. It turns out he was a very good one, taking pictures of entertainers who performed at KRH. If he took your picture, it was also an act of approval. He preferred taking photos of ladies.

As CR2S readers know, I check the daily obituary page as religiously as I write this column. It was with surprise one day when I read of the death of his daughter; he had made no mention of the tragic loss. I decided to attend the funeral service, anyway. The first thing I noted, he wasn’t seated in the left front pew. He was sitting all alone a half-dozen rows back to the right. Whatever the reason, and I had a plausible guess as to why, I was glad I attended.

Even though I can’t remember my sons’ birth dates, I recalled once hearing about Mr. T’s love of peanuts, the unsalted variety. I hung a bag of Trader Joe’s nuts on his doorknob. It was a good week later, in the privacy of an empty hallway encounter, he (tearfully) expressed his appreciation for my presence at the service and the anonymous gift of nuts. And oh, by the way, “Be at the bridge tomorrow after lunch so I can take your picture.”

= * =

There are so many subjects requiring commentary that I should have acknowledged by now. CR2S, remiss and bad. For example: When I expressed bewilderment trying to figure out what happens to sale money when a non-profit is purchased by a for-profit. A half-dozen responses were received from knowledgeable sources, including CPAs and a lawyer. I could fill two columns with explanations and examples, but won’t – at least for now. Let’s condense the matter by declaring everything is kosher; no one walks away with ill-gotten gain.

A point of interest was the belated appearance of a movement to file protests with state agencies involved in the approval process. CR2S received an email, from a (JA) physician, suggesting a letter of complaint be sent objecting to the Ensign transaction. Yet another missive was from a representative of a worker’s union (that does not represent Ensign employees). While it lauded the merits and background (of his group), I couldn’t help but wonder if I was being recruited to endorse a union movement. [The name is Hiroto, man, not Hoffa.]

It is apparent Ensign Group has a public relations department. One of the first things straightened out was the name, Keiro. It was an about-face from the initial announcement that declared the first thing to go would be our iconic name. What else stays or goes is uncertain. The vast and highly prized volunteer program, which has been a source of pride for the past half-century, is earmarked to remain intact. Smart move. It not only supports and expands campus services, it saves money. You can’t beat the formula. [The volunteer support group was launched many years ago by Margaret F. Hiroto, assisted by Suzie Dobashi.]

The first thing Ensign did was conduct a survey of resident television service. It asked how many were Time/Warner subscribers. CR2S Assumption: Wouldn’t that signify (maybe) it was considering wiring the entire building for T/M reception? And paying for it so tenants can receive L.A. Dodger games free (in the future)? Farfetched, maybe, but why else would such a poll be conducted? It would be a generous goodwill gesture, to be sure. [And make a later rent increase more palatable.]

Yup, things around here are a little less than normal. But nothing to get excited about. Local events don’t exactly make engrossing reading, but since Keiro has been a major community centerpiece for so long, whatever transpires here is of interest to a whole lot of people.

Yeah, Life is Good. Maybe not great, but good. Why get hoggy when happy is better?

W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at williamhiroto@att.net. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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