My imminent retirement has been in the newspaper. It's official. Some people congratulate me. Some warn me — "You better find something to do."
"After we retire ..." is how numerous conversations over the last 10 years began. My wife and I had things we wanted to do but little time to do them. We looked forward to trips longer than one week. We looked forward to events that ended after 9 p.m. on a weeknight. As long as we were working 50 weeks of the year and arising at 5:30 a.m. to get to work, those trips and those events were out of reach. After we retire ... we might be able to do those things.
Although I have maybe another month or six weeks of earning a paycheck, I have no firm plans for just what I'll do once retired. I will volunteer, I've told people who asked, though my commitment is not final. I will write, though I don't know what my first project will be. There are ideas I've had and unsuccessful fiction I can rework and improve. In a 30-year-old house and a half-acre yard, there are always things to do. Books I haven't read or want to reread line bookshelves upstairs and down. I don't think I'll run out of things to do.
My wife will work another year. That puts me in charge of all the housework she usually does. I long ago took grocery shopping and most of the cooking off of her agenda. I'll add dusting, vacuuming, laundry, window-washing and cleaning to my to-do list.
We'll set aside a few minutes before dinner as "grateful hour" — grateful for a roof over our heads, food in the refrigerator, a yard to care for, our wonderful children and grandchildren, the opportunity to sit quietly and reflect on where we've been, where we are and where we might go; grateful for each other.
Our adjustment to retirement will, no doubt, have some bumps in the road. I worry about having enough money to keep us "in the matter to which we've become accustomed." Being together all day every day will not be the same as setting aside an hour in the early evening to talk about our days in separate jobs with different problems. In 46 years we've never run out of things to talk about, but we've also never tired of simply sitting quietly together and enjoying the silence.
In another year, we will put one phrase to rest: "when we retire ..." Then what?