🎋 Retirement 🎋

A wooden sign post with two different signs on it.

My wife and I recently celebrated being in our retirement community for two years. It took us a few months to adjust to our new environment, but now the place seems like home. What’s not to like? They do the home maintenance, make necessary repairs (all I have to do is submit a work order), cut the grass, put mulch in our flower beds, clean the gutters, and much more. My wife hasn’t cooked a meal in two years, plus we can invite friends and family over to eat with us in the dining room. I get to spend my time doing whatever I want to do. This is precisely what retirement should look like. There are about 420 of us on a campus that is, perhaps, 45 acres of beautifully landscaped paradise. We are located close to I64 and a major street that will take us quickly to any store in town. If I need to go across town or to a nearby city, I jump on the interstate and hop off at the appropriate exit.

I want to say that we planned our retirement to include all these beautiful things, but unfortunately, we did not. We lived in our home in a nearby town for thirty years, were perfectly happy, and then started getting old. I was 81, and my wife was 80, and we knew our health would decline within the next decade, and we didn’t want our children to interrupt their lives to look after us. So, we moved to this retirement center (The Chesapeake) in Newport News, VA.

We knew about this retirement center because we selected it for my mother-in-law when my father-in-law passed away in 2001. She lived here for ten years before passing away, so we knew the place well. What surprised us the most was that it wasn’t all the amenities available here; the residents and staff made it so enjoyable. In our previous home, I knew about 8-10 people on our street. I have 80-90 friends here, and everyone I meet is friendly and outgoing. In addition, we have weekly entertainment, classes to attend if we choose, and an excellent fitness room and swimming pool. I never thought retirement would be this enjoyable. We still like to take monthly trips somewhere. Recently, we took a trip to Pigeon Forge, TN, on our community-owned bus, and then a few weeks later, we drove our truck to Lumberton, NC, to spend time with two old friends.

My favorite time of each day is dinner in the dining room at 6pm. There, we usually eat with two couples (Richard/Nancy & Tom/Betty). Still, we are occasionally asked to dine with other friends, which is always fun. For years, my wife and I ate alone at our former home, munching our food as we watched the evening news and Jeopardy. Our meals are filled with wonderful conversation, and laughter fills every nook and corner of our dining room. What a joy that time brings!

I would be remiss if I failed to mention that getting old also brings trips to the doctor’s office to prevent health problems and care for the already present ones. As we age, our hearing deteriorates, our eyes need more robust glasses, and sometimes our heart needs a pacemaker. We also lose the thing that keeps us upright, called balance. Many of my fellow residents have canes, walkers, and scooters to use as they navigate our compound’s different areas. Sometimes, we check into the healthcare unit of our compound for a short stint, then go back to our apartment/cottage to resume normal activities. That is how life travels in our small community.

All in all, a wonderful place to be. Northcote Parkinson said, “A luxury once enjoyed becomes a necessity.” Yup, that shoe fits me quite well!

💫 I did some research, and at age 82, I’m older than 99% of the world’s population and older than 97% of all the people in the United States. There are 7.9 billion people younger than me but only 175,000 people older than me. By filling in some simple information, I was told that they projected me to die on April 10th, 2031. And I thought only God knew the date of my death! Of course, we all know that if you see it online, it has to be true 😊. I read an article by a fellow that is 93, and he said he thinks about death about every 15 minutes. I remember reading an article many years ago, when I was in my mid-thirties, that men think about sex every 15 minutes. I remember thinking that was probably true. I’m not sure about the thinking about death thing. I know that it’s much closer than it was, but it seldom enters my mind. I have too much going on in my life to think about dying. I cannot tell that any of my friends worry about the endgame either. Dolly Parton said correctly, “I think you have to work at being happy, just like you have to work at being miserable.”. Amen to that! 

💫 Recently, as I removed my glasses, the arm on the right side detached itself from the rest of the unit. I tried to put it back in place, but with reduced vision, it was impossible. Off I go to my local optometrist to get it fixed. The nice young man behind the counter looked at the detached arm and informed me he would return in a few minutes. Off he goes to his workshop, and sure enough, returns with the arm reattached to the rest of my glasses. I shake his hand, tell him how much I appreciate what he has done, and leave. Lo-and-behold a few days later, the same thing happens again. Back I go to the same fellow and he asked me, “How long have you had these glasses?†After some thought, I responded, “I think I bought them here in 2018.†He enters some information on his screen and says, “You have had these since 2013.†I was dumbfounded! How could I be that far off? That helped me decide quickly that it was time to replace them. He asked me if I had an old pair that I could use until he finds a frame my lense will fit into, and I informed him I do. I expected it would happen, so I had the old ones in my jacket. He cleaned them and put new nose pads on them, so I’m now walking around wearing the glasses I wore ten years ago.

They aren’t as comfortable as the ones being repaired, but then again, I don’t expect them to be. I advised the young man to be as frugal with my money as he would be with his own😊. He told me he would. Hopefully, my vision will be fully restored within a few days. Reminds me of the US Marine Corps motto, “Embrace the suck.” I’m tryin’.

If you’re interested, I wrote a missive titled “Life’s New Chapterâ€, on April 10th, 2021, about our expected move to our retirement community. You can read it here.  I think you’ll enjoy it.