Did we retire just to continue working hard, still not smelling the roses? Seems that Frank did. His pathetic life needs help and it needs it now. Any takers?
Plenty, as it turned out. About 460 readers responded. Here are a few of their letters…
The original column is at May Your Last Check Bounce Before You Die
Thanks for sending your column, but I just don’t have time to read it! What with my genealogy work and maintaining four gardens, I just don’t have time anymore… Tell me again why I retired??!!! Tom in Oxford, WI
I am in some way in the same boat. Raised our kids but worked fifty hours a week as a chef and restaurant kitchen manager-started at 12 also washing dishes in a diner-married at 18-8 kids in 13 years-lived next door to diner and worked there for 40 years. Retired after my husband passed away and was bored stiff so I went back to work cooking in a small hotel till I finally quit at 67-bored stiff so now I flea market-stuff of mine, my kids and for other seniors who are short of cash so I do it on commission. Keeps me occupied, suntanned and out and about meeting people and making a few bucks-also keeps my weight down-along with swimming-that helps too. Went to senior breakfasts and the usual trips but they are boring-who needs to discuss how many pills they take and their latest surgery’s books -I read about 4 a week -that’s my real weakness-in the tub -keep water warm and read till 1 A.M. sometimes. Have a great one-take time to smell the roses!!!! Goldie Maziaka
Sometimes I feel that I am busier than ever now that I am retired. But, the truth is, it just takes me much longer than before to accomplish the same things! Judy Dixon
You are NOT a senior workaholic. You are a very blessed lunatic who loves what he does and does what he loves. Period. It doesn’t sound like you want to swing your best years away on trivial pursuits like golf any more than Marika & I. We do have time for long walks, talks, swims and grandkiddy frivolity, however. Maybe a senior with too much time on his/her hands could assist you in some of the nitty-gritty, like reviewing books, answering some of the mail, etc. We really enjoy your humor and resources. Marika & Howard Stone
I am only semi-retired. I spend 40 hours a week at my 24-hour a week job! But you know what? That’s okay, because I have a LIFE and I make a contribution to life. To me that’s more important than the relentless relaxation that many of my friends indulge in. I cannot imagine sitting around reading 4-5 hours a day between meals, golf, swimming or luncheons. To me that would be boring. When I get too wound up, I step back and re-adjust my priorities. So now I’m just a semi-workaholic and that’s okay by me. Betty Kaiser Columnist The Cottage Grove Sentinel http://cgsentinel.com/
I did it both ways, retired and then came back. Those people you talk about that are retired and are very busy are busy doing things like volunteering, playing golf, all other nonsense. You retired and took on a job, which is probably busier than you had working your previous jobs. I work out of my house with a sales job in the morning, and then go to a radio station where I fix things in the afternoons. I bring in two-paychecks- now that is a sign of progress at the age of 70! You know Frank, when I got too old no one would offer me a full time job other than the Wal-Mart, Home Depot types, which I would not do. I took it upon myself to create a vendetta against those people and figured out a way to keep active and still make money. That is what I do! Bob Diorio
You are not alone Frank. I am 85 yrs. old and have retired 3 times. The last time took though’. At least I think so. I retired from my last job in ’96 and since then I have been busier than ever. I retired then because a hip broke and had to be replaced. I think being so busy is what is keeping me going. I do know that if I was “taken care of” by my kids, or sent to a Nursing Home, I would probably die because I wouldn’t have enough I needed to do to keep me going. So, you are still VERY busy. Keep it up!!! It will keep you going to a ripe “old age” like me. N. Spear
My husband says that fun is underrated! His goal is to spend more time playing than working. So far this year he has spent 9 weeks camping and hiking. I think he’s going to make his goal this year. Cindi
Your column knocked on a mental door of mine.
I may not fit the mold of “Suddenly Senior.” But I did retire two years ago to chase another career. I am 50 years old and now call myself a writer and consultant. I do not work outside of my home office where I am affixed to my computer pretty much all my waking hours. Now and then I take time to cut the grass, shovel snow or even go out and buy food. But these things do not happen often and the cupboards and landscaping show neglect. So does my wife.
A decade ago, when some of my older colleagues were speaking of their own retirement and would say, “I don’t know what I am going to do with myself!” I would respond by replying, “I know. I have a list that will keep me busy for another lifetime.”
And so it has. So it will. I have no patience for people that have dedicated so much to one career that they cannot contemplate another. Patience is, however, needed for people who ask me, “What is it you do all day?”
I try to explain. I am not usually successful in describing e-mails, web sites, writing, promotion, author consultations or even writing this note. But I am busier now than in any of my previous lives. I expect I am happier too.
For those that ask, for those that have to ask, “How do you keep yourself occupied?” I only can fear for them. They are the ones that will pass beyond this planet shortly after the acquisition of the proverbial gold watch. Jack Magestro
Who are you kidding? You have to know, that there are a lot of seniors out there who work harder now that they have retired, than they did when they were in the workforce. Hell, since I got this computer, and started my little e-zines, and I do mean little, I am far busier now than I was prior to retiring 14 years ago. Face it Frank, you love every minute of the time you spend doing what you do, because, IT IS WHAT YOU ENJOY DOING!!! Keep up the good work, Frank. Bill Johnson
I think you are on the right track. I have been practicing t’ai chi for 30 years now, and have found that the very Taoist idea of balance often permeates (mostly unconsciously) my life outside of t’ai chi practice. I find that when I become aware of a pattern of too much work (as you seem to have done), that conscious awareness helps me to correct the push energy with a roll back mindset that leads to more useful (to my body, mind and spirit, that is) pursuits, or lack of pursuits. My last t’ai chi teacher, a very Chinese gentleman, Mr. Sik Hung Chan, would repeat over and over to us: “more practice, more relax.” David Newman
You’re not the Lone Ranger in working harder and longer after retirement than before. I’m serving as a volunteer fireman, sitting on the Board of the Fire Protection District, handle PR and photography for the local Elks Lodge, ditto the Golf Club, plus being involved in the Church, and many volunteer projects that come up once or twice a year. Plus I have to read your column to help me keep my head on straight. Don Macdonald
I also can’t seem to stop working, but I have a clue into my overreaching and working all the time.
First, I enjoy it….I’m challenged. I feel alive when I’m pushing toward a deadline, planning next month’s edition, calling advertisers to pull some more money from their pockets. And I absolutely swoon when I get a note telling me my Publisher’s Note rang true to a reader. Or how about the telephone call I just got from a little old lady telling me how much she likes Dr. Richardson’s column. It all gets me out of bed in the morning. Sure, I like to walk in the woods, listen to birds and watch the deer……which is the way I like to start my day, but not my whole day.
And I’ll tell you my biggest fear which is another reason I intend to work till I can’t……BOREDOM !!!!!!!!!!
If I went from bridge to exercise class to book club with nothing else to do I would lose my mind. I very seldom watch TV and when I do it is usually a movie I rented from the library. TV isn’t bad?.it’s just boring.
I will be 60 later this year and I think a lot about retirement…..mostly that I don’t want to go there.
I could write more but deadlines are calling. I just had to respond to your Suddenly Senior this week. Mary McGraw, Generations. Ellicott City, MD
I really understand everything you are say. My calendar is fuller since retirement, two years ago, then what it was when I was working a full time job.
I don’t know what happen. I swore this would not happen, because I had seen so many of my friends fall into the retirement “work syndrome”. Then I think if I was not busy, what would I do? I don’t wish to clean house or anything strenuous. Got bad knees, Arthur is trying to possess me 🙂 and all that stuff. Anyway, I really enjoy most of it. However, there times when I have to say to myself and everyone around, “STOP THE TRAIN AND LET ME GET OFF!!!!”
Maybe for us this is the way it is supposed to be …
I am an avid reader of your column. This is the first time I have responded to you writings. I thoroughly enjoy them. Today’s story just hit the sport. Thank you. Helen Johnson
Workaholics? I don’t think so. I’m 65. Retirement is not on my list and won’t be as long as I am healthy.
If I retired from working I would do volunteer work. It makes sense to me to earn money so I can spend the money to help the economy. We can live on our Social Security but we can’t play much.
I am working differently than I used to. Fifteen to thirty hours instead of 40 hours a week. The work I do now is on my own time. I don’t have to punch a clock. I pick the hours when I work and how long I work. If I’m focused on the job and it takes several hours what’s wrong with that? If I want to start working at 8 p.m. and work until 2 a.m. it’s my own business.
I love to work. I enjoy the accomplishment of a project completed, a job well done, the ability to make other people’s lives run better because I was involved. Why would I waste all this knowledge?
The key is balance which is accomplished by making choices. The questions are: Who writes all that stuff in my date book? Am I running my life on purpose or by accident? Am I happy with my life?
In addition to working I attend exercise class for an hour twice a week, and walk occasionally. I schedule at least one lunch a week to visit with a friend, some weeks I go to lunch 2 or 3 times. By the end of the month I have had lunch with several people. Keeping in touch with family and friends is a high priority.
When I die I expect to leave projects unfinished and unread books piled high. I live life fully and plan to keep on that way.
Some of my “retired” friends spend time drinking coffee with their friends, some travel, others prefer to stay home and work in their yard. Where is it written that we have to live our lives the same just because our ages are similar. We don’t live our lives the same at 30, 40 and 50. Sixty-five becomes the magic number where you are looked at differently if you keep working.
I’m living my life as an example that you don’t have to become old just because you are 65 or older. It sounds like you are a good example too. Hooray for you! Barb Kehl
I thought when I hit this point in life I would have time, time, time. Where does the time go. I have so many things in piles to do, that I have been saving for now, and damn I have no time because I am soooooooooooo busy. Thanks for thinking the same way. I was a little worried. Have fun being busy – one never knows when one will tip over and then will have nothing to do. Martha Hanssen
Hopefully, you are “too busy” doing things of your own choosing because they bring you delight and/or a sense of self-fulfillment! That’s what retirement is supposed to be about. If the “bus-i-ness” of your life isn’t bringing you delight and self-fulfillment, then perhaps it’s time to re-examine your priorities and drop activities that aren’t fun. Gerry Williams
So you HAD to retire because you’re too busy to work? Guess I’d better be – we can’t afford to move back 😉 Actually I find your rants about medicines quite encouraging – my costs are nowhere near that level. We live in a suburb of the capital city of the country – sitting atop a hill at about 900 feet. There’s a panoramic view of Cook Strait from the living room. It’s a bit over 3 miles to where I work in the middle of the city and it takes me 45 minutes to walk (being mostly down hill) 75 is a HOT summer day and in the 21 years we’ve been here we had snow/sleet once that lasted until the following afternoon. On the other hand, just to preclude complacency we have several earthquakes per year – none damaging as yet but “the BIG ONE is due any time now”. Also being on Cook Strait means we have some ‘quite nice’ winds and we seldom remark about them until they get to be more than 50 mph – and the next thing south of Wellington if you look on a decent map is the Ross Ice Shelf so whenever the South wind blows (Winter or Summer) within a couple of days you feel it. My wife and I think about retiring to ‘somewhere else’ but we haven’t found it yet. Stop in some time and I’ll show you around town – but you’d best wait until Bush or Kerry raises the U.S.$ so you get more for your money. Seasons are reversed here so we’re starting into winter. Hugh Gilman
Not taking the time to enjoy life is a bad thing, and as you say, it is usually the result of lifetime habits. I think some of us seniors hang on to practices that are no longer useful because we feel if we give them up it means we are no longer young. Guess what? We aren’t, and we should drop some of those ways of doing things. I, for one, was brought up to eat everything on my plate. That is not a good routine for someone with diminished nutritional needs. It was a wrench, but I now listen to my body. Are you still hungry? No. Then don’t eat any more, no matter how good it is.
Activity was what the world demanded of us when we were younger. Being busy was the sign that we were productive and important in the scheme of things. Unfortunately, our culture doesn’t provide for listening to the wisdom of seniors, so we stay in the game. Again, it is a question of when to say “No.”
I find “Suddenly Senior” interesting and useful, but I would hate to think that it is robbing you of having fun. If you don’t do it now, when are you going to get around to it? Eunice K. Riemer
Here are a few thoughts:
What are the things you’ll reflect upon as you lay and lie upon your deathbed?
What review of “actions and activities” will confirm that you lived the life you chose?
What legacy do you leave that will confirm the feeling of no regrets?
Is what you are doing right now … worth the breath that you hold to “get it done right” before the sun sets again?
Those thoughts rolled off my fingers in response to your newsletter. Wonder what I might create if I thought about your life-changing question for a while? Suzan Hilton, MT, CPA (Inactive) author of The Feng Shui of Abundance
Welcome to the club. I’ve been “retarded” now for many years, but still have the same overloaded schedule and backlogged projects. I have to keep reminding myself, as I now remind you, that it’s ONLY work if you’d rather be doing something else! Joe Klock @ 77
Yes, we wait too long to do those things. My husband died (60) and having a business we didn’t take time to do all those things you mentioned. It was always “later”. Please take 1 hour a day and do something wonderful for yourself. I took me a long time to get to this stage but finally I can do those things I had forever put off (for all the wrong reasons). You do a great job and maybe 1 weekend a month for you and that special person would give you time for those “I want to ??? thanks again for always inspiring me with your letters. Marlene Bedford
As usual you delight me. I am always grateful to you for one reason or another. This time it is that you keep SO busy. You keep doing all the important things you do. Then all I have to do to keep well informed, giggling, and smelling the roses, is to read your column. What a guy……………. Jazzy Judy
You gotta learn to say “the hell with it and do what you want to do” George Rahifs
I don’t know the answer but I just wanted you to know that I am too busy, too! People think that I am just a little old disabled lady, living by herself, who has nothing to do all day. But I never, ever catch up!!
It must have something to do with a person’s ambitions. Busy people want to do so much! They don’t want to lay around the house all day in their pajamas and watch TV. They think there are more important things to do in this life and they want to do them. I only regret that my disability keeps me from doing more of the things I want to do. But I am determined to do ALL that I can with this body that is falling apart way before its time (and before I am ready!)
They say if you want something done, ask a busy person. And I believe that is true! Sandy Sloan
Thanks for sending your column, but I just don’t have time to read it! What with my genealogy work and maintaining four gardens, I just don’t have time anymore… Tell me again why I retired??!!! Tom in Oxford, WI
I have been retired since 1999 and find the days are shorter. Couldn’t be that I’m slower,<G>. I am busy sewing, which I love, for my granddaughter. She is seven and loves the dresses I make for her. I also made her a pair of riding pants because she suddenly had outgrown the other pair she had last year. She has even enlisted my help to make her teacher a new dress. I also am searching for ancestors and find I love the computer. I am busier now than when I worked and I love it. Wish the days were longer. I do stop to listen to the birds and admire the beautiful yellow dandelions in the green grass. I am thankful for the beauty that I can stop and enjoy now. Not bad for an old lady——well——I don’t feel old, just walk funny. Delores
Just got back from a trip to Alberta and I had been complaining to our daughter that I had expected to be able to do all the fun things after I retired, that I did not have time to do while I was working. Now I am 72 and the chief caregiver of my 94-year-old Mom who has some health challenges,(as do I have also) and I said that the older I get the busier I get but that I never seem to be just sitting around doing nothing. “What is the answer?” I moaned. ;-} We finished off out trip to some grand, and great grandkids in Edmonton and arrived home late last night to almost 200 emails sitting on our machine, just waiting for my attention. (No wonder I am so busy! One of the emails our daughter sent was your Suddenly Senior column. Thanks SS, now I know someone else feels the same way as I do. After I deal with all this other stuff, I will take a peek at some of your other links. sounds intriguing. Another SSer, Joan Bund
I did it both ways, retired and then came back. Those people you talk about that are retired and are very busy are busy doing things like volunteering, playing golf, all other nonsense. You retired and took on a job which is probably busier than you had working your previous jobs. I work out of my house with a sales job in the morning, and then go to a radio station where I fix things in the afternoons. I bring in two pay checks- now that is a sign of progress at the age of 70! You know Frank, when I got too old no one would offer me a full time job other than the Wal-Mart, Home Depot types, which I would not do. I took it upon myself to create a vendetta against those people and figured out a way to keep active and still make money. That is what I do! Bob Diorio
Loved the column today. You are not alone in your insanity. I am glad you took time for your birds and bubble bath. Hope you lit a candle or two. I do not entertain quite the work ethic that you do but it is still ok. I splurge on some time to myself everyday. No psychotropic meds for me. I came home, leisurely, and somewhat stiffly (out of shape) gardened a little, played with my two collies, watched the mallard twosome eating the corn I put out for them. (My yard is wet in back every year.) I am also wishing the loudest thing I was hearing was my own thoughts. Neighbors, dogs, phones. How lucky you were to have that time. Thank you again for all your dedication and hard work. There must be some intelligent people who would be willing to help!!!!!!!!!!! Send me books, I will read and critique for you. All right, so maybe my sentence structure isn’t so great. What questions is AARP not answering for you? They are doing a Medicare training in our building on April 23rd. I would love to ask your questions for you and would let you know what they respond. They are providing a free lunch to all attendees. Membership loss must sting a little. My favorite song is “Question” by the internationally acclaimed Moody Blues. “Why do we never get an answer when we’re knocking at the door” is the first line of the song. Frank, we all appreciate your efforts to keep us informed. Take time to enjoy life everyday. Baths are wonderful but have more fun. Orders from a former Recreation Specialist. Carol Gilbert
To let you know you’re BETTER OFF WORKING.
By being laid off at my age, no one will hire me and I qualify for nothing since I’m not super-savvy with computers and not a financial whiz-bang, either. It’s all figure work and computers – all beyond my comprehension.
My shorthand is slower than slow, but I’m still typing 70 wpm, but NO ONE REALLY CARES.
Also, please make note – that with all the fancy figure work they do on computers, NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO SPELL OR TYPE ACCURATELY.
They can do what I CAN’T, but THEY cannot do what I CAN.
Unfortunately, the need for my services are neither wanted nor needed — the world has changed…
You don’t stay sharp as a tack if you’re not working. I can guarantee that!!
And if you’re inclined, you take nappy-poos – (since I’m an insomniac by nature, I have no escape from time with “naps”).
If you have money, you can travel and visit all the nooks and crannies of the world. I don’t particularly care about them. I don’t know why – but I’m a “home” person who requires a “structured” type of day – and I’m at wits end not having one.
I made so little money in my life that I felt like I already volunteered, so I don’t do that, either….
I wanted to volunteer at a wildlife care center and was willing to clean animal doo-doo to work up to the status of feeding baby birds who lost their mommies, but it’s so far away, the price of gas and traffic-galore, caused the whole idea to die on the vine.
Promise yourself a day a week to read what people have sent you. You might find something promising and thought-provoking.
But don’t stop working. Joan
Just returned from Sun and Fun last night, didn’t know you were only an hour away. Just incase your feet were not on the tarmac, the weather was great, the night show fantastic, but the crowds seem down. Plan to, if life doesn’t get in the way, to be at Oshkosh in July, hope you and Carolyn make it also. This is the first time I have every responded to your valuable letters, you are doing an outstanding job of representation. THANKS. This country needs more columns like yours, more people to read them, and then maybe we could get the message to congress; have important changes made, changes this Country was shaped and built by. Have you ever thought about a radio show?? I can’t find one to listen to anymore, the people that have them now have NO common sense, uncaring of the seniors blight, or unappreciative for the “little man.” Thanks for hearing me out. Beverly Samuelson
For such a smart guy, you’re missing the boat on this retirement thing.
I don’t know what you did for you 56 years of working life, but I bet you enjoyed it. In fact, I’d bet a winning lottery ticket on it, if I bought lottery tickets.
Why am I so sure? Because you’re still able to see the humor in life and you’re able to get the thoughts from your head onto a website that brings joy to millions of people. Why, I’ve forwarded it to at least 3 of them 🙂
You are in the moment NOW. You observe, you think, you write. I’m willing to bet another lottery ticket that you’d be thinking of things to write even as you did the backstroke in that swimming pool or watched planes that defy flying.
Now there is an idea. Isn’t Suddenly Senior all about defying what we’re ‘supposed’ to do when we reach a certain age? And aren’t you doing exactly that? Right on! Pam Pinnegar
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