I'm sure you have heard that soldiers in the field resist becoming close to their buddies, the reason being that they either rotate out or worse, become KIA's.

Living in a 55+ community has the same pitfalls.

Nine of the senior citizens living within sight of our Quail Hollow "cottage" have transitioned out, for one reason or another, in the five years we have lived here.

The first to go was a chipper "young woman" who decided to move closer to her children on the west coast.

Next to go was a friend with some medical issues who packed up and moved to Arizona, again, to be closer to a child.As she prepared for her move, she lamented that she could not take a very large plant that had belonged to her mother. It now resides on a table in my living room, a constant reminder of her friendship.

A friend who lost her doctor husband, due to a fall, was recently convinced by her children that she should no longer be driving and was moved to an assisted living facility in the area.

Following soon after was another neighbor who packed up her paintbrushes and art-work, and moved to Connecticut to be closer to a son.

Across the way, a couple, the wife suffering from Alzheimer's and her caregiver husband, decided they had to transition to assisted living when he was no longer able to pass the driver's test.

Next door to them, the aging retired school teacher made the decision to move to assisted living; one more cottage on the market.

Next to go was our closest neighbor, a widower who suffered a stroke in his home, was hospitalized, spent a period in rehab and was moved by his children to another of the many assisted living facilities in the area. This was a difficult one for us. We shared not only a common wall where we could keep track of each other's comings and goings, but he was a retired conservation officer, bear and bird watcher. He and Charlie found much in common.

Just last week, a couple in their 90's (he is a retired Navy medical doctor) sold their cottage and are in the process of making the inevitable move to assisted living. They both still swim daily and have been an inspiration to all of us. After more than sixty-five years of accumulating treasures during their many foreign assignments, they now have the sad job of sorting through the remains, most of which will be given a loving pat and disposed of like flotsam tossed over-board.

This morning we learned that neighbor number nine had fallen in her home, her medic-alert not within reach, and died. The first sign we had of this tragedy was seeing the children in the driveway with packing boxes. Another goodbye.

We are constantly reminded that we are all in various stages of transition, coming and going at the will of a higher being. We look out for each other as much as possible without being intrusive, even joking that we should all have small flags that we raise each morning to assure our neighbors that we have lived to see another day. But we also know that the countdown has begun and our days are numbered.

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The Quail Hollow book club group is getting smaller and the faces at The International Women's Club luncheons are different every month.

New people are occupying the cottages, bringing with them fascinating tales of their youthful days. The latest addition to our neighborhood is the widow of a former US Surgeon General.Our community is home to retired Senators, authors and military service officers, each with their own story.

We will meet and greet the newbies and relish their stories, but we will try not to care too much

The moves are difficult; homes have to be sold and decisions made about what comes next, sometimes at great odds with family members. But like the soldiers, we keep our attachments light, try not to depend too much on each other and keep a wary eye out for signs that things might not be right with our neighbors.

Transition is inevitable; we all just pray that the transitions will be as easy as possible on us and on our loved ones.