A man named Ben, who lives in Lee County, sent me an email in early December of 2019. He said he planned to retire at year end and wanted to know if I had any advice. I told him to stay off ladders and don’t tell his wife he’s retiring. She’ll eventually find out, but by then he should have been able to establish a routine that’s unblemished by spousal coercion.
The advice I gave him seemed potentially beneficial to others, so I decided to put it in a column with some other ideas. As I began writing, a few comments I’ve heard about retirement came to mind.
Buddy Mashburn and his wife, Donna, owned The Clothing Carnival in Unadilla for many years. After they sold their business and moved to Florida a mutual friend of ours went to visit them. When he asked Donna how she liked retirement, she didn’t hesitate.
“I have half the money and twice the husband,” she said. “What do you think?”
Another quote I heard was attributed to Mr. John Ransom, a former postmaster in Unadilla. Not long after he quit canceling stamps someone asked him how things were going. “It’s been rough,” he said. “I don’t get any holidays, sick leave, or vacation.”
Pete and Laura are friends of ours who live in Tennessee. Pete has retired but Laura is still working. When she came home from her job one afternoon, she asked Pete, “What did you do today?”
“Nothing,” he replied.
“I thought that’s what you did yesterday,” she responded.
“I did,” said Pete, “but I didn’t get finished.”
Those three stories give evidence that a good sense of humor helps in almost every retirement situation, but I thought this column should also include a few ideas of substance. I’m no expert on retirement, but with four years of practice I’ll share three suggestions. The triple tenets, which I believe are essential for a healthy retirement, are to stay busy, have some fun, and do something worthwhile.
There are plenty of ways to stay busy. It may be a longtime hobby like gardening, woodworking, fishing, or sewing. Or it may be something entirely new. I know a lady on the other side of the 70-mile marker who is learning to play guitar. She’s stretching her fingers and mind at the same time.
In an assisted living facility, which I recently visited, a gentleman was working on a massive jigsaw puzzle. Hanging in the hallways were other pictures he had completed. There’s a satisfaction that comes from putting jumbled pieces together. That’s true of more than cardboard puzzles.
Having fun can be as simple as pouring salted peanuts into a bottled Coke while reminiscing with an old friend on a porch. Or a short drive to Lumpkin to see The Little Grand Canyon and have a picnic lunch below sea level might be a nice outing. Or maybe boarding a cruise ship headed somewhere we’ve never been should be on our calendar. Fun happens if we let it.
Doing something worthwhile is perhaps the most important part of retirement. When we do nice things for others there’s a satisfaction not found if our focus is on ourselves.
You won’t see much litter on the streets of Pinehurst, and none that’s been there very long. Mr. Raymond Davis is a senior citizen who faithfully walks the roads with a trash bag and a litter stick. Mayor Connie Christmas told me he follows a regular schedule to make sure the town stays clean. I drive through Pinehurst several days a week. When I see Mr. Raymond in his lime green vest on the side of the road, it reminds me that humble service is the most noble of aspirations. That’s not an original thought on my part. I’m paraphrasing what Jesus said on multiple occasions.
There are countless resources that offer detailed retirement ideas for those who need help, but simply focusing on three foundations can be a good start. Stay busy. Have some fun. Do something worthwhile.
P.S. to Ben: I apologize for part of the advice I gave you earlier. I realized belatedly that one of those recommendations may be questionable. If you’ll be careful and follow the safety rules, sometimes it’s okay to use a ladder.