I was recently introduced to a couple of friends, Greg and Joy who are about to retire shortly. This post has been inspired by the brief chat that I had with Greg on the subject and it is dedicated to Joy. Joy, Greg will need a lot of you after retirement.
“Retirement, a time to enjoy life! A time to do what you want to do, when you want to do it, how you want to do it.” – Catherine Pulsifer.
That is one way of looking at retirement. Another, more realistic way is this.
My life’s ambition was to retire at fifty and laze around.
Number one reality, I simply could not. I could do so when I was 52. So, I set about planning for the financial side of it by trying to encash my unproductive assets into productive ones so that I can laze around.
Number two reality. Man proposes and God disposes. Someone came into my life and made an offer that I could not refuse. Yes somewhat like being able to avoid the financial rejig. So, back to work I went for another thirty months and retired again. This time to really just lie around and laze around generally enjoying life and putting on weight.
Number three reality. Another someone came along and made another offer that I could not refuse and I went back to work for a year. This time when I retired, it was for good as matters at home became unmanageable and I had to take charge. Since then, except for a six month revisit to implement second phase of the project that I had started, I have been in retirement from a nine to five routine but far from being able to live the way Catherine Pulsifer thinks retired people should.
So, Greg, I hope that you are reading this. Be prepared to meet with unexpected demands from totally strange developments in your life. They will come your way and when they do, just remember this GOM’s prediction. Catherine’s kind of retirement may happen, and if it does you can be like this:
In my case, the grey hair and no hair have sort of kept pace with each other too!
The following beautiful note was sent to me as a ‘forward’ by a classmate of mine, who I have not met for over forty two years. We are however in touch by group mail.
I surmise that this piece of writing is a letter in reply to some question about friendship and growing old that someone has asked the author. I get asked such questions quite often by young people who are amazed at the length of some of my friendships and how I can keep in touch with so many of them even now. They also wonder how oldies like us can still be playfully friendly. I have saved this writing to use to reply to such queries that are sure to continue to be addressed to me. I hope that you enjoy this as much as I did and do.
I am truly grateful to Sudesh for sending me this and to whoever is the author for this magnificent piece of writing that I wish I had the talent to write.
“I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, and my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly.
As I’ve aged, I’ve become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I’ve become my own friend.
I don’t chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn’t need, but looks so avant- garde on my patio.
I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.
I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.
Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon?
I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60 &70’s, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love … I will.
I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They, too, will get old.
I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things.
Sure, over the years my heart has been broken!
How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody’s beloved pet gets hit by a car?
But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.
I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs
be forever etched into deep grooves on my face.
So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.
As you get older, it is easier to be positive.
You care less about what other people think.
I don’t question myself anymore. I’ve even earned the right to be wrong.
So, to answer your question, I like being old.
It has set me free. I like the person I have become.
I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be.
And I shall eat dessert every single day (if I feel like it).
MAY YOU ALWAYS HAVE A RAINBOW OF SMILES ON YOUR FACE AND IN YOUR HEART FOREVER
AND EVER! FRIENDS FOREVER!”