Thursday, August 22, 2013
R and R
My dad is 83. My mom is 84. Here's what I think. If they want to sit in their recliners, dozing, watching TV, working find-a-word puzzles, or playing the violin, so what? They've earned it.
There's something going on in this country--a whiplash against retirement. Second, even third careers are lauded. Strange folks who do incredible physical feats in their 70s and 80s are extolled all over the internet. No one praises that oldster who's enjoying his or her well-earned rest. Instead, they're forced into feeling 'less', less worthy, less important.
My folks were born in an era where people worked from before dawn to waaaaay after dark. During my early married life whenever they came to visit, they were always working. Mom wandered around collecting laundry so she could wash and dry and fold it. Dad was always fixing something, or mowing the lawn, or changing the oil on the cars. They were never still.
It used to annoy me until I finally understood that urge to be working was built in almost from birth. They didn't know how to be still. Small wonder that my mom used to drop off to sleep the moment she sat still in church. Bam! She'd be out like a light! It's still the same whenever she rides in a car.
Now they rest, vaguely uneasy when they're caught in the act by unexpected visitors as though they should be up and about. No. This opportunity to doze in the afternoon, to sleep late and go to bed early, is their well-earned right.
It's mine, too.
The hunk and I sleep until we feel like getting up. We go to bed when we want. Maybe we have a nap. We both spent well over thirty years rising before 4 A.M., working all day until we finally tumbled into bed around midnight. I once estimated that I spent over six hours in the car every day. That was life then. Now we're retired. During the day we putz around doing whatever we feel like. Sometimes we go out to the store or medical appointments. Other times we read or crochet or cook or simply talk. We may not leave our apartment for two or three days.
But always, underneath, there's this vague sense of unease that we should be doing something. SOMETHING.
Yesterday I came to a long overdue conclusion. Retirement is my job now. It's whatever I make it. If that's writing, then great! If I choose to climb Mt. Everest, well...I should probably start saving up for the travel costs. In either case, I have the freedom to do something I want because I'm retired. I've worked hard to earn this freedom. I refuse to apologize for the way I use it.