When you think retirement, what comes to mind? Trip to Fiji? Summer home in Barcelona? After being in the workforce for years, you’d think that retirement would be fun and relaxing. Unfortunately, time waits for no one.
Retired district court judge Keith Davidson lost his wife of 66 years to cancer in April 2016. Days turned into months, and Davidson found that his house felt far too lifeless in her absence.
“You just can’t imagine what it’s like,” Davidson told NBC affiliate KARE-11. “You cry a lot. That’s just the way it is, because she’s not here.”
In order to combat his loneliness, Davidson, 94, came up with a win-win solution that would benefit both him and his neighbors in Morris, Minnesota. Davidson built a 32-foot pool with a diving board and invited the whole neighborhood. No entrance fee required. Soon enough, his backyard was teeming with kids and their families having the time of their lives.
“I knew they’d come,” Davidson said. “I’m not sitting by myself looking at the walls.”
His neighbors were definitely skeptical at first when Davidson pitched the idea. It’s not every day your neighbor offers to build a giant pool for anyone to use, after all. From an economic standpoint, he even agreed that it made no sense to install one in his backyard, but his mind was set. Months later, Davidson opened the in-ground pool and never turned back.
“You get used to having a person there to enjoy, and now this doggone place is just so quiet,” he admitted to PEOPLE magazine when asked about losing his wife, Eve Davidson. “The pool has been a diversion from that.” To this day, her items remain untouched in his house, including her watch that sits on her nightstand.
According to KARE-11, Davidson has three adult children, but no grandchildren. Well, at least blood-related kids. Jessica Huebner, one of his neighbors that brings her kids regularly, joked that Davidson “adopted our whole neighborhood of kids.”
If Davidson wanted the company, his neighbors wouldn’t say no. Huebner visits regularly to bring snacks and home-cooked meals to repay his kindness and show her appreciation. While the children play, the parents often chat with Davidson and laugh about their kids’ shenanigans.
These days, Davidson can be found sitting in the poolside shade while dozens of children swim and dive into his pool. His rules are simple: a parent or grandparent must be present when children are swimming.