I was chatting with a neighbor recently, telling him I was thinking of retiring. His response was something to the effect that retirement isn’t in the Bible. I have a great deal of respect for the Bible, and when he said that, I instantly felt guilty.
Ironically, as our conversation progressed, I discovered that this neighbor is already drawing his government pension, and is in the process of handing his businesses over to his sons. Sounds like retirement to me! (Sometimes my fellow Christians frustrate me. They seem to want to pile needless guilt on everybody else, while skating by on technicalities.) And as for the Bible, even King David retired to his bed in his old age, and let others handle the affairs of the kingdom.
So, as the day approaches when I no longer have to leave my home and go to work, I sigh with relief.
You’d think, at the sound of that hugh sigh, that I must slog away somewhere all week long in the saltmines, but no, I work two days a week in a hospital as a nurse. Certainly you can’t call me overworked. Nor, for that matter, underpaid. You might even call me semi-retired already. Go ahead, say it.
But what retirement means for me is not a workless life. No indeed. The benefit of retiring from my work outside the home is that I shall be able to do whatever I want to do all the time, not just when work allows. I will be able to get together with my family on holidays, weekends, and birthdays. That’s a big one. I can’t count how many Christmases I’ve worked through the years, how many birthdays I’ve had to celebrate on the wrong day. And how many times did I wrestle with my family’s welfare over the job because one of the children woke up with a fever? I can’t count how many babysitters, daycares, and relatives I’ve needed over the course of the many years I’ve worked. Is it any wonder I want to hang up my spurs and put the horse out to pasture?
To me, retirement means I have every day at my disposal. It means that regardless of the ominous weather report, I won’t have to drive for an hour through three towns to arrive at my destination-and drive home again at midnight after I’ve watched the snow piling up for the last eight hours. I may never even watch the Weather Channel again!
You can see I’ve put a lot of thought into the idea of retirement. When we’re young, vigorous, optomistic about the future, we don’t give it a thought. As we grow older, our pace slows, our interests change, our world shrinks.
I have now lived that future I looked forward to way back then. Although not yet spent, I’m not absorbed by the future as much as the past and the present. I want to stop and smell the flowers I never noticed in my hurry to get on with life. I might even find a hidden desire to cultivate a few of them. I stay involved with world events, but view them with the perspective age gives. In surveys, my age group always seems to favor what youth would call, old fashioned ideas. I once thought my parents were hopelessly out of date.
I’ve officially become my parents.