Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Visions of retirement from a four-day weekend

I was fortunate to be able to make New Year's a four-day weekend. Monday was a holiday, and I took Friday as my last personal day (read: vacation) of the year. Unfortunately, the weather was not conducive for doing the chores that called me outdoors, so we did some of the unappealing organizing, discarding and sorting activities we had pushed to the bottom of the priorities pile.

Nevertheless, we accomplished a few things, and still have some similar tasks to do the next rainy or snowy day off. We skipped social activities, except for a New Year's dinner (with black-eyed peas) at our daughter's home, and mostly just did the things we needed to do inside the home. We slept later than usual, but not obscenely late, and we set aside a little time most afternoons for some reading and potential napping. We downed an extra cup or two of coffee every morning and started dinner late. I found some good college football games on the television and watched a few impressive feats of athleticism. On a rainy Monday afternoon, we drove to the gym for an enjoyable workout of nearly an hour.

We enjoyed ourselves and our time together, the feeling of accomplishing some things without a strict time schedule. All of that made it harder to arise Tuesday morning and head to the office for work. That Tuesday feeling makes us more eager for the time when we will retire sometime in the next six to 18 months, when we will have the time to get to the bottom of our priorities, when we will have time to read every afternoon (or almost every one), when we will be able to travel to see kin, friends and places we long to see. We promise not to "flunk retirement" as one friend my age claimed he did. There will be time for volunteering as well as for the other important things in our lives.

Meanwhile, we anguish over the prospects of income after retirement, of health care costs, of long-term care, of our health, of the uncertainties of life. Retirement now is the dream we share, just as we shared a dream 45 years ago of a quaint, comfortable house, children and grandchildren (if we could imagine such a thing so long ago) and happiness unbound. Our long-ago dreams did not materialize just as we had imagined, but in some ways even better than we had dreamed. We will continue to dream.

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