I find myself now surrounded with people that are retired or really close to entering this slower phase of life. Yes, retired!
I freely admit that merging my brain function into this new phase of life is not yet graceful. This struggle is one that was not expected, because I felt ready to rid myself of the daily grind – the fight, the push, the rules, the regs – that was taking a toll on my life outlook. But what I didn’t expect was the loneliness that comes when I realized that nearly everyone I worked with for over a decade would simply disappear. For them, I guess I was no longer relevant in their world. My only explanation is that people I thought were “friends” weren’t really friends at all, but simply business associates. So it is necessary to turn the page and move forward to what’s next.
Retired is a word that I couldn’t have imagined would be a part of my vocabulary just a few years ago. But it has arrived and it is surprising how the word and especially its related components seem to dominate the conversation.
We were invited to a celebration a couple of weeks ago with long time friends. We refer to our little group as the “usual suspects” and we have developed a great relationship and a mutual support system.
One of our group had just received her first Social Security check. I never imagined that a Social Security check would be reason for a celebration, but it was and a nice evening manifested. There was no excess alcohol involved, just a few beers, pizza and good conversation. But, oh my, the conversation was quite different – medicare, medicare supplements, donut hole, healthcare cost, federal exchange premiums and hearing aids – these are now the topics that dominate our shrinking world.
Life gains clarity with age and as another phase enters into the timeline of our lives. I learned again that the joy of long time friends has no comparison and is so much more important than the loss I feel by leaving the working world.
On Sunday we attended a retirement party (yes, there is that word again) in eastern Ohio and enjoyed a few hours with many long time friends. There is great fun in reliving events that occurred long ago with these folks, because these were important years for us all, as they determined who we would become and how we would live our life. I stood with two “long time” friends and I tried to share with them the importance of their friendship over the years. While we each took very different paths to arrive at this point in time, there are fundamentals of love, fairness and trust that holds true of real friends.
By the way, I don’t yet have old “long time” friends! Thank you God!