Retirement 29 Days Later: YOU Without The Company

Newly retired man looking to the future

Who IS that guy?

My husband told me that as a child, he had always known his grandpa to be a strong,vivacious, active person. On one visit to his grandpa a month or two after his grandpa’s retirement my husband relayed how grieved and saddened he was when he asked, “where is grandpa?” and was pointed to a silent, wizened old man sitting in a chair in a corner. Grandpa died not long after that visit. That story and several more have boiled for several years in my mental cauldron about the emotional space work takes up in our lives. Should I be so blessed, yes, the gypsy lady will reach the 3-score mark in 2014. (I’ll tell you when to save the date for the on-line celebration!)

There was a time that the average lifespan in the United States was approximately 50 years. Women died shortly after the end of the childbearing years. My grandmother probably did not worry much about post menopause because she did not live long after “Aunt Flo” stopped dropping by. 40 was old for a woman especially if she was not wealthy. Many men retired at 25 or so years of service–about age 50– and died shortly after receiving their “watch and roses”. I do not believe my grandfather worried about outliving his pension when he simply closed his eyes and stepped from life to eternity during a baseball game one afternoon. According to my mother, he was holding me on his lap.

“You without the company” simply did not exist for my grandparents, but it is an in-your-face issue for the gypsy lady and classmates–the boomer generation. We can very well expect to live another 20 years at least after the old standard retirement age of 65. This is the beginning of YOU without the company: 30 days into retirement somebody else shows up in the mirror.  Is that person friend or foe; familiar or total stranger?