As I stood in the grocery store yesterday, I heard a woman say, “My husband wants me to retire when I’m sixty-two, but I would be too bored. What would I do?” I felt sorry for her; could she really have nothing in her life but her work? And I thought of the people I know who are retired or semi-retired, and I wanted to reach out to this woman and tell her that retirement could be one of the happiest times of her life.
The greatest gift of retirement is time — time to do those things that we enjoy, and often had to postpone or guiltily fit into our already full schedule. I have savored every moment of my retirement years. I care for my grandchildren while their parents work, so my free time has been somewhat limited, but I have managed to enjoy gardening and the birds and little creatures who share the garden with me, and to pursue my hobby of flower arranging and my desire to write. I work a bit on my genealogical research, read obsessively, spend time in my kitchen, take long walks, poke through antique shops and estate sales for additions to my various collections, and take photographs of anything that captures my imagination. My life is full.
I have many friends who are retired and busily involved in the things they love to do. Some travel, some volunteer in all sorts of organizations. There are those who spend their time in more athletic pursuits and others who work part-time in occupations they enjoy. We all have more time to spend with family and friends. Free time is an invaluable treasure; we have worked, raised families, and been responsible citizens for most of our adult lives, and as we retire, we find a new freedom — the freedom to spend our days as we please.
And, I wish I had turned to this woman in the grocery store and told her how wonderful retirement can be. Perhaps she will change her mind and find out for herself that she won’t be bored; rather, she will treasure the gift of time to discover new pleasures in her life. Or, maybe she really does have no interests except her job, and she will go on happily working each day at an occupation that deeply fulfills her.