Retirement: A Day in the Life of a Retired Husband
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I retired in December 2009, which has given me the opportunity to observe my retired husband's rituals, yes rituals, things he's established as his new 'working day'. He has been retired for nine years and has a routine not to be interrupted, especially not by me. Retirement is a whole new way of life, like learning to live all over again. In our house it's almost as if our roles have been reversed. Once I was in charge of the house and housekeeping, now he's the boss! Dishes, laundry, even mealtimes are now under his realm, the new King of the castle.
Retirement age is often a personal choice. Sometimes it's made for you, sometimes you make it yourself. It can range anywhere from 55 to now 66. In some places you can retire when you're 55 if you have enough years of work to go with it, in others the numbers change and you have to be 60 plus have so many years....it all depends on where you work and how long you've worked there. Whether you make the decision to retire yourself or its forced on you retirement changes your life. Early retirement is not an option for many people and is something to be considered seriously. Your financial future (which hopefully involves years)can be based on the amount of your retirement income and that can often be based on early retirement versus waiting till full retirement age. In his case he decided to retire early, trucking just wasn't the same anymore the pressures, regulations, de-regulations, just off the board. The first year of retirement was rough and took a lot of getting used to but after that he slipped into the role of retiree.
He has a routine...which he set up for himself while I was working and he was home alone...He gets up each morning and puts on the coffee. While the coffee brews he goes out and gets the paper. He then sits down with coffee and paper and checks the obituaries to make sure his name is not there and to check and see if he recognizes anyone else listed there. He then reads the rest of the paper. Once he's done with that he checks out Jerry Springer for a while, yes, I said Jerry Springer. He thinks its funny! Did I mention the load of wash he threw in before Springer started?
After Jerry Springer he begins to plan his day and see what he can fit into his schedule. I will admit he does go over to our local American Legion Hall once a month to clean - which takes approximately three hours. He also goes to his father and mother's to help them with whatever they need. This can often be a daily chore since they are in their late '80s. Its amazing the amount of things you need to do when you're retired!
Our retirement home is the one we've lived in for the past 42 years. Home priorities include mowing the lawn. The lawn length is not allowed to exceed three inches lest it be considered too long. There is also poop patrol. We have a dog so he has to clean up after the dog at least twice daily. Other outside tasks are handled as they crop up. They can range from putting polyurethane on a bench to adding cement patch to cracks near the garage or trimming hedges that are beginning to lose their shape.
As lunch time approaches he begins to advise he is starting to get hungry. Anything will do for lunch, well almost anything. The first one or two suggestions are usually rejected. By the third suggestion the answer is usually, "I don't care, whatever you have." It's a ritual almost akin to a mating ritual but ending in eating.
The Rest of the Day
The afternoon can contain anything from a two hour nap to cutting down trees with the grandsons. Chores also vary with the season....there's shoveling to be done and bird feeders to be filled in the winter and lawn mowing and pool chemicals and our ponds to take care of in the summer. He is always busy and always available for anyone who needs help whether its a family member or a neighbor.
Dinner is at my discretion and is always followed by Jeopardy. The rest of the evening depends. It depends on a lot of things; what's on TV that night, which one of the grandchildren has a band concert or a football game, who's coming to visit, who's birthday it might be, and any other assorted incidents that crop up.
The funny thing is he's busier now than he was when he was working! Every retiree we know (and we know more and more each year) agrees they don't know how they found time when they were working...of course they didn't find time but they quickly forget that.
Regardless of what happens and what gets done, whatever he wants to do is his choice, he can fulfill his own retirement wishes. After 35 years of driving a tractor trailer he deserves to finally be able to make his own calls, even if they don't include grocery shopping with me.
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