Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Retirement -- like having a baby?

Starting a family and starting retirement occurred decades apart for me, but both involved an examination of priorities and values, taking a hard look at finances in tight times, and lots of love. If my husband and I had worried about all the things that could happen back then, we would never have started our family. Same for retirement.

We had prepared the best we could and finally just took a leap of faith. I set the date to turn in my public information officer’s hat at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. The Lab in Ocean Springs is part of the University of Southern Mississippi and both were home to colleagues who made every day an adventure in the best sense of the word.

Three things fueled my growing interest in retiring from a job I loved -- the desire to travel with my husband Walter, to be a part of our grandchildren’s lives while they are little, and to spend more time with our aging mothers.

Those top three were not my only incentives to consider retirement before 65. My retirement to-do list is extra long with lots of other want-to-do and should-do things that I had put off for ages. I started praying about if I should retire and if so, when. Walter and I discussed expectations, finances, the possible effects of changes in routines, and dozens of other questions and issues that occurred to one or the other of us. A sense of urgency developed from the conviction that the current moment is the only sure opportunity for special times with those I love. The decision-making process took about 16 months. My last day was April 30, 2008.

The first two months as a retiree affirmed the decision to make the change. By June 30 I had:
been through two surgeries with my mother,
become better acquainted with our two-month-old granddaughter when I babysat with her in Prairieville, LA, for several days,
traveled to Columbus, GA, to help with our newest granddaughter’s three siblings while mama and newborn settled in,
flew from Atlanta to Newport News, VA, for the graduation of my niece in Hampton, VA, and
completed a June 1-30 van trip out west.

To a query about what I was doing in retirement, I ticked off that list and ended it with “My cup runneth over.” The comeback was “It sounds more like your cup runneth over you.” Not quite, but the pace has been a bit more leisurely since then.

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