GOING FOR THE GOLD THIS SUMMER: In my own backyard, that means marigold style. Mom used to grow them on the farm but only this spring did I realize how easy they are to grow and how low-maintenance and happy they stay all summer. Next spring I'll plant even more. They also offer quite a pop of color around the old farm bell and skirting the back porch. Retirement means time enough for many new pursuits, even simple ones such as this.
Note: Earlier this month my new column about adventures in and observations on retirement began. I've been asked if I would share it, so here goes the kick off to Next Chapter. I need to give the newspapers first dibs before I repost but once they have run, I will do so.
I'm grateful to newspaper readers who have reached out after this and my second column were published.
I'm enjoying this new era and confirming yet another life cliche to be true: I don't know how I had time to work! Mostly, I'm trying to live each day with complete gratitude. Each one is truly a treasure.
How to begin again, and a new column
In the 37 combined years I’d been on the payrolls of two newspapers, I saw a lot of people come and go in every department—typical of the news business. I’d also seen a good number come, go, and come back again. With this column, count me among those who return.
In my case, I’m back only as a columnist. For many years one aspect of my payroll job included regular slice-of-life columns. Writing the column felt like sitting down over coffee with readers at Café Royal. What I proposed is that kind of column, only with a theme about this new phase of life—retirement.
I don’t like goodbyes, and so today, I want to say hello again!
When I turned in my office key on the eve of last New Year’s Eve, what bothered me most about that day was anticipating that final walk out of the newsroom, into the back shop, and through the back door. The moment of leaving weighed on me.
So many memories were made in the newspaper office and throughout Henry County. Leaving felt like a cold-turkey way to give up something I loved. Would those memories overwhelm me as I left the building? If the tears came, at least no one would see “the ugly cry” once I climbed into my vehicle and hit Indiana 38 West.
The thing about that back door was that once it shut, there was both literally and figuratively no opening it again as the employee I had been for over three decades. Even if I freelanced, I had clocked out for good as regards my long-time payroll job. I didn’t stick around to contemplate the moment, and felt relief when my eyes somehow remained dry.
I turned 62 last year, old enough for Social Security, but young enough that just barely. Claiming it then would be something to discuss with our financial planner; just one of many things to learn about the new era ahead.
For much of my life, I had been the younger person in life settings: the youngest child in my immediate family (by a long shot); the younger daughter-in-law married to the younger son in Brian’s; the youngest among our best couple friends; and on occasion, the youngest where I worked, notably before coming to the C-T.
But “young” wasn’t what or who I was anymore and hadn’t been for a long time. “Young retiree” might work, but not really. I found that out in a hurry as I went about telling people my retirement plans. Not a single person said, “No! You’re far too young for that nonsense.”
Turns out I fit the part! How did I get there? Besides the obvious accumulation of years, 2020 had been tough in our household not only due to COVID in the pandemic sense, but with multiple personal losses of loved ones in various ways unrelated to the virus.
As the year unfolded, I became convinced that I should retire after clearing that 62nd birthday. I didn’t know what came next in any regard, only a personal whisper that it’s time for a new chapter.
Little could I have known when I told Travis one year ago about my plan, that days before I left the building, Brian would take his first chemo treatment for bladder cancer. After the chemo came surgery, and then dealing with complications from all of it. As I write this today, he’s doing well. I believe God knew that I needed to retire so that I could concentrate on caring for him during those difficult months.
I am deeply humbled and saddened to think of those who are unable to retire or leave work to be home with their loved ones who are going through hard things. I’m grateful for the privilege to do that, and now, I’m getting more than my feet wet in this retirement thing.
Already, I have a lot to say about it. I’m grateful to Travis for the go-ahead to put these thoughts on paper and share them with you. I’d love to hear from you with your thoughts about anticipating or living out this era of life, or just to say hello or continue the conversation.
I want to age with grace and gratitude—despite whatever circumstances I must face. The cliché is so true: aging is not for sissies. Also, I plan to share the joys and opportunities, insights and obstacles of this time and place.
We’re blessed if we’re able to get to this next chapter. Welcome to mine.
Continue the conversation by emailing me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.