Age --- Retirement
What it means to me
Years ago I was told by all my elders that someday I would retire and be happy. That all my hard work would pay off. I was expected to do my homework and get good grades. Go to college and expect the good life. There was to be marriage and children and possibly work outside the home.
Yes, the home.
I was to take care of my husband and children and house and pets, if we had any pets. But the big one was that as a woman I was in charge of my home. Smile when the husband came home from work and have dinner on the table. This is how I was taught to believe life was and should be, and never to make adjustments. Because everyone was doing what I was doing and it was just how it was and I should not question anything.
Well, there was the 1960s and women decided to throw their bras away and wear skimpy clothes and challenge the status quo. Yes, I did all of the challenging I could muster without being a millionaire or a “trust fund baby”. The word retirement was not something I was going to have to face any time soon. No need to save a bundle when you could spend a lot. Spend on anything you wanted because the rainy days were “now”, not in fifty years, they were “then”, and life had to be lived because there were bombs to worry about and pollution to care about and children to feed.
All things that the prior generation had to be concerned with but the older people did not have the up and coming technology to know that they were being deprived of necessary goods and services. Advertising was there when they were young but it did not dominate the football or baseball games. Those were activities that were fun in those days.
Schools had teachers who taught the three Rs and actually wanted their students to learn. Not like today. Now the teachers want more money and some even want to date their students. School districts cared about the books the children learned from and wanted the children to pledge allegiance to this country. Now the districts are afraid of the minority voice that wants a pledge to end.
I didn’t care about all the changes going on around me. I just wanted to live and be free and happy. The eternal look for happiness, money was just to pay bills and buy necessary clothes or food. It never matter to me to have “all” the money in the world. Why? Money was to spend, not to save.
Soon I found out that no matter how well you take care of the house your husband will do as he wishes. This could mean having another person in his life that feeds him and cleans his clothes. Life is not going to revolve around your home or your children or your happiness. Divorce is no longer a dirty word. It is now an alternative to keeping yourself happy.
The children you raised and made your entire life revolve around, you one day find don’t remember all the little things you did for them. They may read in a newspaper that children are maimed or roasted (literally) or killed by their parents; but that is not how they were raised. They survived without the nasty scars that some children have psychologically or physically. But still they don’t remember how many times your drove them to school so their feet would not get wet or drive them around to do their paper route because it was too cold. Oh, and let’s not forget the school fund raisers and all that you purchased so your child could maybe win the big prize. Nope, they just know it was how it was and if they want to describe you to their friends, yes, they think of the one time you may have lost your temper or the one time you didn’t have the money to give them to go to some special event. But they will always preface by saying, “She wasn’t always like that, and I do love her”.
The pets you cared for when they were sick. Now gone and you can’t get that big lick or cuddle with them when you want to have a good cry. No they are gone.
Retirement has you realizing that age does count in the working world. You think if in your past, you called someone old? A person who now would be younger than the age you are. You have time now to do a lot of thinking. All those projects you wanted to do … you now have time to do but in the back of your brain you are not doing because, well, they just don’t seem to important anymore. But the only jobs now available to you where you would matter are the same jobs you had when you were in high school. Such as babysitting, volunteering, and maybe a retail job to supplement your retirement check.
Yes, the days of squeezing in a little time for golf are no longer required. You now have all the time in the world to golf. The only problem, your golf buddies are dying off faster than you can walk around the course. Tennis, oh yeah, the doctor said with your new knee or knees tennis would not be a problem. He forgot to tell you that it would take a year or two to get to that point in your life. Of course that is if your heart and lungs will go along with the program. That goes triple for any dancing you want to do. Everyone alive has problems with their skeletal system so if you could find a place to dance … you don’t have anyone to dance with now.
You enter a gym now and jokingly say, “Well, hope I don’t have a cardiac arrest out there”; while sporting a big grin. Then you see the employees watching you and coming over every now and then to ask if you need any help with the machines? But they are really using their brains to take your blood pressure as they slowly keep an ever vigilant eye on your making it to the dressing lounge. Then the best service you have ever had. One of them pops in the sauna room to make sure the temperature is not too hot. Asking you, “Would you like some water”? You never had such great service before. Now you think that it may have been your comment when you first came in the gym. Next time you have to watch your jokes. Not everyone gets them.
Retirement is not about watching the television everyday and finding out that the Congress will reduce your Medicare and Social Security check or worse yet … not give your cost of living raise in January. (They call it COLA. Something the doctor said you should not have. But you have to keep up with the never ending anagrams.) After all you can hear all that news when you try and have a lunch with friends. Over your necessary salad, due to the diabetes you now have, the friends you like are speaking all about the Social Security issues. You just can’t get away from the topic. News is just not like it use to be and damn there you go again and actually remember Edward R. Morrow and how he spoke the news when you were young. The newscasters now have whitened teeth and perfect hair. Not like the old news guys who you wondered why they did not see a dentist nor had a “rug” for the tops of their heads?
Ah everyday is your day. Your new life of fun and games and reading the obituaries; which are harder to find because the newspapers have gone online and some make you pay to see if Harry is dead yet or Mary did not make it through the surgery. And the games; you love to play pool but the people stare at you if you go to some Billiard spot to play pool and if you want to go bowling you imagine the ones waiting for your lane to open up after you keel over. Your eyes seems to imagine them betting on how long it will take before you give up after rolling all “gutter” balls.
Your daughter gets engaged and you find that you have to pay to put it in the paper. Back in the day it was free. Back in the day you didn’t have to plan how your own obituary would be put in the paper. You thought papers had writers in all areas of the paper. But of course they are there now to tell you how to write the obituary and where to place it so more people will know you are gone. Only good part here is you won’t be alive to see if they spelled your name correct. Another thought to give to one of your children to take care of after you are gone.
Down deep you know that aging has never been a big deal to you. But it is to all the young people you encounter. Some speak louder when you are talking with them. Others give a cringe in their shoulders when you ask them to put the cases of water in your car. You could do it, but you think of dropping dead behind your car after putting cases of water in it. Not the picture you like.
There now are love sights online for seniors and you have thought about them. But then you think of all the trouble it would mean. Such as taking a long bath before going out and then thinking another quick shower before you get in bed. Could mean you fall asleep before he is finished caressing you. But the hardest part is all the talk you have to endure just to get into bed with the person. Then will he be worth the bother? Do you want to love someone or just have sex with them? These are questions that are too difficult for you to answer. It is better to just forget about going online and trying to meet someone. Again, thinking you just don’t have time to bother meeting anyone now. In the back of your head you are thinking, next life.
Yes, retirement is what you thought you always wanted, now have, and wonder why you bought into the “bull” everyone gave about working toward retirement.
You would take that trip across country, but you may have to stop a lot. Your kidneys need plenty of water and there is the ever present thought of leg blood clots. You could have one and it drop you dead in the middle of nowhere which is definitely not close to your doctor or hospital.
So life has been great … retirement is what it is; and here you write about what you know is not really the best time in your life. But it is the only time you have and somewhere, somehow, you know you are happy to be in your retirement age.