They, the omniscient “they,” say that when you retire the majority of your time is taken up with doctor visits and funerals. I’d like to slap a gag order on whomever said that. Back in my working-and-family-rearing days, when I heard that statement, I thought, “Nope, that won’t be me. I’m a Renaissance Man. I’m more ‘enlightened.’”
Well, I’m here to say, it’s true. Looking back over the past week, Ginnie and I have been to one celebration of life, two funerals (in two days, one in which we helped out), the doctor and chiropractor three times (Medicare is wonderful), visited one friend in a nursing home and one house-bound person. Whew!
We also found time for entertainment, and squeezed in two movies with dinner: “Midway” and “Ford v Ferrari,” both of which we highly recommend. Oddly, or not so oddly, the afternoon matinee of “Midway” was filled to overflowing with gray hairs just like us. Hmm.
Life has never been so crazy-busy. We go like a house-o-fire, 24/7. When did we ever find time to work? Between exercising, service work, grandkids, reading, writing, building sculptures, baking and going to political rallies, I told Ginnie, “We need to go back to work so we can rest up.” We fall into bed at night exhausted, only to rise early the next morning to do it all over again. I can’t believe it when I hear from some retired people that they have nothing to do. Really?
Ginnie and I are both “semi-retired.” I don’t know why the Word Makers placed the word “tired” in “retired.” The implication is that we lay around, wore out, sleeping all day. Ha! Ginnie “retired” from her job as a laboratory technician only to be called back to work two days a week. With all that’s going on, she hardly has time to breathe.
George Bernard Shaw said that “Youth is wasted on the young.” Amen! Just when we get this thing called “Life” figured out, we realize we only have, what, 20 or so more years to live? That’s a heart beat. It’s not fair. Just when we’re comfortable in our own skin and know who we are and where we’re going, boom, it’s time to cash in the chips.
There’s no more wasted time. We can’t take a single day for granted. I used to spend a lot of time contemplating my navel. What’s it all about? No more. The confusion is gone. I was so drug down with the grind of going to work every day and making a living that I would have to take an occasional “mental health day.” That doesn’t fly anymore. I start every day now with a list of things to do that could choke a horse. My daily devotion tells me that every day is valuable, “to make the most of what we have today: family, friends, talents, possessions.” If I encounter a few spare minutes, I fill it with something productive. (Reading is productive. Hugging a grandchild is productive.) I find that if I do a little everyday, after a short period, I can look back and see where a lot of progress has been made. I’m working on my third book, a little each day — in the morning when my mind is fresh: my most creative time, alone with God and my thoughts.
I’ve been keeping an exercise journal. It started out with notations on how far and fast I ran, my weight and what my goal for the next day was. The journal has progressed into a list of things to do, what’s going on, and how my body and mind feel — a diary really. (I find that a pulled muscle that used to take a day or two to mend, now takes weeks. Ah, Youth. Where art thou?) The bottom line on each daily entry is now, “Give this day a good pull.”
If you haven’t seen “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” yet, it’s a must see.
Just think, we of retirement age (65 or over), can tell our grandkids, “By golly, we’ve seen the rise and fall of the shopping mall.”
They’ll probably ask, “What’s that?”