What does it really mean? It means one thing to one person and something completely different to another.
Many of us have come to retirement to live out our years in harmony and peace. If we are fortunate with our spouses, if not so fortunate, we come alone. If we live in an adult environment, it sometimes becomes an opportunity to be part of a community, which is literally a surrogate family.
In this atmosphere of living with seniors, it is really evident who has prepared for this new stage of life. For some it is che dolce fa niente. How sweet it is to do nothing. For others it is a time to do the things they have put off for this time. Whatever your expectations might be, they are yours to fulfill.
Among us are many who have lived life planning each step from the very beginning. They planned to go to school and achieve their goals. They followed the path as many do in careers, marriage and raising families. They have recognized the need to prepare for all stages, whether it was school, finding the mate to share their lives and start their own family.
Finding the right college to get a degree in a particular field is necessary. It takes preparation and exploration. Searching the avenue to travel to make a living or choose a profession is carefully sought. The most lucrative job must include benefits and security and hold for them a sense of enthusiasm in their field of interest. Choosing a mate to share our lives sometimes takes a while to find the right one. Sometimes it takes more than once. Nevertheless, we search, explore and plan. Ah, yes, retirement.
My friend, Sue, has prepared. She has come to grips with being alone. Her mate of 48 years is no longer sharing her life. She has been alone for two years now. The period of adjustment was difficult, but after a time, she remembered from the past what they as a couple had planned for their retirement. They would travel to the places they could not afford to go to in their years of child raising, tuition and other responsibilities.
She had to go it alone, but it would not be the same. She decided to go to the community college and use some of her time to continue her education. She took advantage of groups that shared the same interests she did. She loved the theater, museums and also explored some innovative and creative programs in the arts. She travels now with a group of men and women who are filling their retirement with activities that give them pleasure and camaraderie.
Unfortunately, many do not use the same method of planning when it comes to retirement. It is sometime left to chance. The preparation is not always thought necessary. In my humble opinion, I believe it is.
Here we are in the last episodes of our lives. Behind us we have lived and experienced growth, maturity and hopefully security. If, in fact, we have come to this time in reasonably good health, here is the opportunity to do some things we have put off until retirement. Let us stop here. This does not mean we should not enjoy along the way, in all stages of life, but we should take time to cultivate interest to be utilized when we retire.
Men have worked most of their adult lives and they dream about when they retire. The dream about having more leisure time to play golf, go fishing find hobbies. They should not put off until retirement what they can do today. Sometimes retirement comes, and there is no time left to enjoy. Leisure time does not mean to become stagnant or inactive or a recluse. This time for many is a period of self-evaluation and exploration.
Women have experienced the responsibilities of keeping a household, raising children and being a helpmate to her husband. This new era of retirement brings an unfamiliar setting with time available and a sense of new freedom. They also need to prepare. It is easy to become lethargic and bored with much of our role, as it diminishes through the years. When changes occur and our lives are altered, it is more difficult without having some resource to turn to and embrace.
There has been adjustment through all stages of our lives. Most of the time we come through with ease. When people find themselves alone, either through the loss of a mate or a change in their personal status, the adjustment may be traumatic and takes some time.
I feel I am most fortunate in my later years I have sought out the many interests that have sustained me. I have gone to “the well” for refreshment. The days of responsibility for the family have lessened. Although I am loved and love my children, they have received the tools to become their own person and have made lives for themselves following their own particular dreams. They are successful human beings involved with life and people and take an active part in living their chosen lives.
The refreshment I speak of relates to the ability to be able to do some of the things I had dreamed about for many years. To be able to give time in service to the community gives me s sense of fulfillment. To be able to sit at my computer and put on paper my thoughts and experiences is a labor I truly enjoy. The feedback of my readers is payment and affords me a sense of worth. I truly feel lucky to have come to this stage of my life with its peaks and valleys and still maintain a desire to be inquisitive and involved with the world around me.
I believe it is necessary to be interested in where you are and who you are in every stage of your life. It is healthy and certainly helps to maintain a relationship with your peers. Most of us need to connect to others at some time; others need to be connected all the time, as I do in my time.
Linda Alessi, of Lebanon, is a regular contributing columnist. She writes about life in the golden years.