When I was old enough to know better, I told a co-worker not to retire because that’s when everyone dies. I had no idea what I was talking about. But now, my maturity has taught me how wonderful retirement can be if you have planned for it. Planning should include more than just having enough money coming in to live on. It seems to me there are two types of retirements. One is when you are too busy, and the other when you aren’t busy enough.
Because of a heart attack and a stroke, my dad had to retire in his late 50s. He was never physically or mentally well after that. He lived to be 74 and spent most every day as a very unhappy man with nothing he could do. Retirement was hardly ever mentioned for women of my mom’s generation. They were mostly all full-time homemakers and worked in the home as long as they were able.
So, what is a happy retirement anyway? To me, a happy retirement includes:
1. Being free to take care of yourself like you never before had time to do.
2. Volunteering in any way that makes you happy.
3. Reading a book all day if you want to.
4. Getting together with friends for lunch whenever plans can be made.
5. Walking out of your job on the last day knowing you never have to go back.
6. When someone calls and says, “Let’s go.” Go!
There is a quote that goes something like this. “Do a good deed as soon as you can, because you never know how soon it will be too late.”
I found that out many years ago when the daughter of a friend of mine called to say that her mom wanted to talk to me. This friend of mine was a custodian named Kathy at OWU. She had just been put in a nursing home and was unable to walk or able to read anything.
We had only talked a minute when someone came into her room and she had to hang up. I told her that I would be in to see her as soon as possible.
Well, the whole next week passed and I didn’t get there. But we had made plans for me to come on the next week, but she died before I got there.
That definitely comes under the heading of being way too busy. Too busy to go see such a good friend who was the custodian where I worked.
Each morning she came in my office on her break to share a cup of coffee with me. I once told her that we could write a book about all the various topics of conversation we had over the whole 12 years that I was there. I would have called it, “Coffee, Kathy and me…”
At church once, someone said that they thought I would have a very good retirement because of the seeds I had planted. She was right because those seeds have been popping up over these past many years of retirement for me and now George as well. Busy, but as Mr. Missman always said, “It’s all good.”
Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.