Thoughts by Richard Bleil
This is a tale of three men. Yes, I’m one, my father is another, and my friend is the third. For those who survive long enough, I guess retirement is more or less a mandatory sentence, but how we handle it is not. I’m not sure how old my friend is, but I do know that my father retired early taking a “golden parachute”, a great deal when his company wanted to “clean out” the old people. I’m retired more or less against my will, and thanks to my father have simply decided that I’m now done. My friend retired the “right way”.
A word about my friend. I met him at a Renaissance Fair, and just from our conversations and seeing his posts on his social media, I always wished I could have fostered that friendship more than distance and time would allow. I feel as if we have similar senses of humor (unfortunately), and I’ve always enjoyed talking with him. When he retired (and I may have some details wrong, but they are not significant for the point of the post), he grabbed a woman and ran. Okay, that was intentionally misleading. The woman he “grabbed” is actually his wife. They seem to have one of those stable and loving relationships to which we all aspire, that makes me quite envious. And when I say he “ran”, the two of them, as I understand it, are out terrorizing Europe. The last I’ve heard, they’re in Lisbon on their travels, and to be honest, I don’t even know if they still have a home here in the states. For all I know, they may not even be planning on returning. What a great way to spend the time in retirement, with a loving life partner, exploring the world. It takes great courage to do so, and I’m so happy that the two of them are off on the adventure of a lifetime.
My father, on the other hand, did nothing, at least as far as I could tell. He was always very good with his hands, building and fixing things. When he retired, I begged him to do something, perhaps even going so far as to start his own mini business, but he never did. Instead, for him, he more or less sentenced himself to home imprisonment. I guess he got out periodically, but only shopping. I don’t think he ever even traveled. He handled the stress well, but I don’t think mom did. At one point she left, but not for very long. I didn’t think it would last. They were not good together, but I couldn’t see either of them being better off on their own. When mom died, dad continued living in the same house for many years until he decided he passed.
I can’t be certain, but I think I retired at about the same age (give or take a couple) as my father. I’m not sure how well I’m spending my sentence. On the one hand, I’m spending it very much as my father did. I’m living alone in this house (which is far too large for me) and not getting out nearly often enough. This is much as my father did it, and believe me, I’m painfully aware of this, but only every hour of every day. And yet, I’m also getting out. Rather than traveling as my friend is doing (did I mention how jealous I am?), I’m working to keep my mind active. Along with writing (this blog and a couple of books that I’m working on), I’m trying to learn to play guitar and piano, and I still go out and shoot at targets periodically as I did yesterday. (As a side note, I took my .50 caliber magnum handgun, and let three of the gun range employees try it out. My favorite was this tiny and excessively attractive young woman who couldn’t have weight more than ninety pounds, wearing a cute little skirt while packing her 9 mm handgun. I’m shocked it didn’t throw her back against the wall, but she fired it once and decided that that was more than enough.) This summer, I also jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, bought a yearlong zoo pass, and next summer I’ve decided that I will go zip-lining.
So, I’m not traveling. I have a cat now, so I feel a little bit tethered to the house, but I should be traveling more. And I do want to go visit my friends in Scotland and visit my family homeland (Erligheim, Germany), but have no concrete plans yet. So, I don’t know. I’m not as active as my friend, but I’m not as inactive as my father was in his retirement years. I guess, when the time comes, we have a choice as to how we spend our “golden years”. I wish my friend all of the happiness in the world he is now traveling, and maybe, someday, I’ll figure out a better path for myself.