To my wife: “You’ve come a long way, baby!”

Retirement can be scary and not for the faint of heart. Many people approach it with great apprehension, although I was never one of them. In fact, I’m a big proponent.

This comes from a sad history in my relatively small family. There were six other men who were close relatives. My father, who died of a heart attack at age 44. His father, who died of a heart attack, also at age 44. I never knew him. My maternal grandfather who died at age 37 of circulatory illness. Didn’t get to know him either. My uncle (my father’s brother) who died at age 59 of heart failure. My older brother, who died at 69 of early onset Alzheimer’s. Oddly, the luckiest of the group, my maternal step-grandfather, with whom I was closer than any of the aforementioned, lived to 73. But to his great misfortune, he worked all those years and enjoyed just six months of retirement before his heart attack.

It should come as no great surprise to you now that I vowed to take care of myself and retire as soon as possible, aiming to enjoy my “mature” years as my progenitors never could. I semi-retired at age 60 and fully retired at 65.

Which brings me to the blog title. Patty, my dear wife, is from the old school. You work as long as you can, and then work some more. Retirement was considered a one-way ticket to uselessness. This, in spite of the fact that her father, a career Naval Officer, retired at age 54 after 32 years of service and never looked back. He enjoyed 30 years of retirement before he passed. Between fishing at his cabin in Canada, playing golf and puttering around the house, he knew how to make the most out of the years given him.

Patty did get a late start in the workforce. She stayed home with our children until they were 14 and 12. During this time, she finished her college degree and became an elementary school teacher. That career lasted nearly 25 years. Then came her medical emergency and the heart valve replacement surgery. I was determined it would not be a repeat of my family misfortunes. As soon as she was sufficiently recovered, I said to her “you are retiring, we are selling the house and moving close to our granddaughters.” And so we did.

Then, lo and behold, she went back to work as a full-time substitute! I cajoled and pleaded, but she just couldn’t handle so much downtime. I was volunteering at no fewer than 5 different places, but she felt that she should be paid for her experience. It was hard to convince her otherwise. Finally, after 4 more years of her full and part-time substituting, we moved to our present place of retirement here in Virginia Beach. I have finally seen her learn to enjoy retirement like I never thought possible. Though she has taken on a somewhat involved volunteer position as Regional Director of the Epilepsy Foundation of Virginia, it is not too time intensive and a good part of the work is handled at home. Mostly, we revel in out time together and pick fun things to do everyday. I have never seen her happier.

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“This is what happy in retirement looks like.”

In fact, she coined a phrase the other day which any other philosopher would be proud to call their own. It goes like this: “Do what makes you happy…..rest…..repeat!” She has truly arrived.

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This is a driftwood sign post she recently made and put up near our front porch.

As for me, some volunteer work, house upkeep, travel and exercising keeps me busy and happy. I have often thought I should hire on at the local community college to teach a class called “How to Retire, Guilt Free.” But then, that would be like working, wouldn’t it?

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34 thoughts on “To my wife: “You’ve come a long way, baby!”

    1. Thanks, Peg. Glad to hear from you. When you aren’t on the blog for a while I get worried about you. Not to mentioned missing my “Peg-o-leg” fix.

      1. Life has been…complicated lately. A very dear friend is gravely ill, and I’m trying to clear my desk at work and get ready for a trip to England – tomorrow! My oldest daughter and I are going to meet up with our youngest, who has been studying abroad, while my sweet hubby holds down the fort at home.

        Joys and sorrows; that’s life, ain’t it?

        1. I had a feeling something might be worrying you. Sorry to hear about your friend. Sounds like the trip is well timed to pep you up a bit. Have fun.

          1. My friend has been having trouble finding the right words so he went in for a scan and found out Thurs it looks like a brain tumor. We found out at our regular, group, Friday night dinner date. I hugged him, gave a cheery pep-talk about how my sister is doing fine, living with a brain tumor for more than 2 years. He collapsed Sat, has lost more ability to process and speak and is scheduled for surgery tomorrow. It doesn’t look good. Life irrevocably changed in one week. It’s so sad and bewildering, Al.

  1. Love this picture! Love the two of you! Maybe someday George will learn to retire, but I think we have a long way to go. Until then, I will just enjoy what we do have and stop bringing it up. Great post!

    1. Thanks, Susan.

      There are few men as dedicated to family as George. While it’s difficult for him to just walk away, I know the satisfaction of what he is doing for you all is it’s own reward. When you finally do get him to “hang it up”, let’s celebrate with a cruise together!

  2. Al, I need your help. Could you possibly take over the Presidency of the’ Never Been Freshly Pressed Club’? I know it is a lot to ask, what with the immense task of keeping track of our Treasury. But they ‘Pressed’ me Al, and it has honestly been one of the more discouraging events of my blogging life. I know the Story Wrangler who chose my post meant well, but not many people want to read something tagged ‘Natural Disaster; when they can read a poem about farting…

    1. It’s with great surprise and mix of emotions that I humbly accept the scepter of the NBFP presidency. While feeling immense disappointment that you will not be leading us, I look forward to holding high the mantle of those of us who value underachievement.

      Since the founding of the club, you have steadfastly shown all of us how mediocrity can be it’s own reward. Obviously, your leadership frightened the powers that be at FP to the point that they “eliminated” you the only way they knew how.

      Seriously, congratulations on your award. Your reporting of that awful flood and the affect on an entire community was poignant and enlightening for those of us who followed it. I look forward to many more posts and hope for your sake they can have a happier story line moving forward.

      Your pal, Al

      1. Thanks so much Al. I am confident that you will be able to mine the same vein of humour as I did and thus carry our beloved club onward and upward! But more importantly, your blog reflects the loving and caring relationship you have with your wife and family. All great Presidents are great husbands and fathers and grandfathers first! (Unless they are great wives and mothers and grandmothers, of course!)

        I’ll announce your appointment with my next post. All relevant posts about our club are at: http://gogreygirl.wordpress.com/tag/nbfp-club/

        There is a recently created NBFP widget badge on the sidebar of my blog. Copy and use it if you like. Feel free to copy the membership list and any other information about the NBFP Club over to your blog too.

        A sceptre? Seriously, why didn’t I think of getting one of those!

        As a NBFP alumni, I promise to sink back into relative obscurity. I promise to continue to write in the mediocre style that is my trademark. I promise to return to much happier story lines once my flood advocacy role is done.

  3. Jane Thorne

    I love Patty’s signpost. Al, may you two keep going strong for many years to come. Loving support from a partner moves mountains….much love to you both. 🙂 Xx

    1. Hi Jane and thank you. For some reason your comment went to spam and I just found it. That was happening to “counting ducks” also. Thought you might want to know.

  4. Cindy B

    Lovely story and pictures and ending and everything. Retirement isn’t even in my vocabulary, since I have a bunch of part time gigs and nothing fulltime to retire “from”, so I guess I’ll just keep on keeping on…I’ve already had my medical event. I am glad you’re enjoying the good life as you should be. One day at a time here, and it’s always a good one when I see a blog of yours posted!

    1. Thanks, Cindy. I’m always excited when I see you have commented. It’s great that we have reconnected and fun talking with you.

      As for the retirement, you don’t have to be officially retired to enjoy life more. I sense you are doing that much better than you give your self credit for.

  5. Wonderful photo of your three best chums. Yes, it is important to learn how to “take it easy.” I am still working on it. I now regret teasing you about turning 70. Obviously it was indeed a milestone for you. Congratulations. Dianne
    PS Oh sure, as Regional Director of the EF Patty has really retired. Boy does she have you fooled.

    1. Tease away. That’s what makes it fun.

      The thing about EF is I am able to help her a lot. I am her IT guy, chauffeur and proof reader.

  6. Very relieved to see Bella back to her normal colour!! Looking after grandchildren, no matter hat age they are is not resting!!

    I agree with you completely. Peter’s dad spent his whole life working and saving for his retirement, and then died suddenly aged 62. A few years ago we had a scare with Peter & he had a very serious operation involving keyhole surgery in his chest, with 7 rather large ‘keyholes’ to show for it!! Luckily everything was ok & he recovered from the operation, but we now live for today, even more than either of us used to.

    Me being ill as slowed me down too, and I am glad of it. I want to spend my time with people I love & doing things I enjoy. I have everything I need and lots of the things I want, money won’t give me this peace of mind or enjoyment! I remember being at work and just counting the days to my next holiday… It’s like the song ‘Running to stand still’. Now I just have to write big notes to myself to remind me of the days I’m supposed to work.

    Very glad Patty has started to enjoy retirement, her craft work is wonderful, if you do run out of savings I bet she could generate a healthy income making things 🙂

    1. What is this life if full of care
      We have no time to stand and stare?
      No time to stand beneath the boughs
      And stare as long as sheep, or cows.
      No time to see, when woods we pass,
      Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
      No time to see, in broad daylight,
      Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
      No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
      And watch her feet, how they can dance.
      No time to wait till her mouth can
      Enrich that smile her eyes began.
      A poor life this, if full of care,
      We have no time to stand and stare.

      William Henry Davies 1871 – 1940

        1. It’s great isn’t it! It’s one of those poems that it feels like I have always known, but then forgot it between 16 and 25! My daughter aged about 1 reminded me of it one day as I was on the way to do something really important like shopping, or posting a letter. She became transfixed by a furry black & yellow caterpillar crossing the pavement.

          We both stopped and sat down on the warm pavement, and watched it for ages. It is one of my favourite memories of having small children

    2. Thanks, Barbara. Patty appreciated your comment. She has, in fact, sold some items for charitable events.

      Very scary about Peter. We all get wake-up calls in our own different ways, the key is to recognize them and act on them. Sounds like you are both doing that and that’s good to hear. I wondered how your new job was going. The fact that you have to remind yourself to go to work speaks volumes for your new, improved attitude about life.

      What a marvelous poem! I had never seen that before. I need to put that to music and make it my theme song. I have copied and saved it.

  7. It gives me a lot of pleasure that two people who have done so many things which are right, and supported each other if things went a bit wrong should have this precious time together. May it continue for many years. God bless you both.

  8. Pam

    OMG! I’m going to come retire with the two of you. However, I fear that I am too much like Patty. Even now on the weekends, I cannot “rest.” I feel like I must be doing something in my “free” time. I guess I just need to come and take notes from the pros! Seriously tho, Patty looks great!!! You are both a great testament for retirement.
    Love your writing!! and miss you both!! Pam

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