Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 565 Groups

This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery.

ROMEO and JULIET are names given to two groups of which I just recently heard. Steve, a listener I referred to in a previous podcast just followed up with another informative letter about a retirement creation to which he belongs: the ROMEO one.

Isolation can be problem for people who retire. Our work friends can disappear. We find ourselves without that contact we have built up over the years with those we come in contact with every day: the good morning greetings, the water cooler talk, give and take of frivolous banter, and someone to listen to our problems or pressing concerns. Those might all seem relatively unimportant but they are the minuscule daily concerns that tie us to the rest of humanity. We have a need  to share the serious and the light sides of our lives.

Not that we don’t cherish our time alone and time to finally relax a bit more time out of each day but we don’t want to feel abandoned. Thus we are advised to get up and get out. We are advised to volunteer. We are advised to join groups. We are advised to participate in activities that will bring us in contact with others.

A former contributor to these podcasts, Dick Smith created a men’s group that met each week in a small room in the back of a restaurant for lunch and talk perhaps twenty five years ago. It grew in size from a small bunch into sometimes 15 to 20 participants. these were all older retirees. Many former professors from the university. His idea was that they would talk about their feelings and emotions at this stage in life. He found himself disappointed.

The meetings turned into lectures with one trying to impress the other with how much they knew. He complained that they shied away from sharing feelings and emotions into intellectual issues. And he resented the few that dominated the time with lengthy rants and raves. He invented a little machine that kept track of how much time each member held forth. He called it a versigraph. I saw it but I don’t really know how it worked. After the meetings he would print out the results and distribute them at the next meeting hoping it would have an impact on those expounding for inordinate lengths of time. It was to no avail. He left the group.

Steve is having a different experience with his group and I will just lift a couple of paragraphs from his most recent letter and let his words speak (and I quote)....”one of the very best activities in which I have become involved is our monthly ROMEO luncheons. ROMEO stands for “Retired Old Men Eating Out.”  There are seven of us, about half of whom have fully retired, and our ages are about 72 to 84. Like clockwork, on the fourth Tuesday of each month, at noon, we gather around the same round table at the same conveniently located seafood restaurant. We almost all place the same food order that we always place. What is different each month is the interesting discussions we have for about two hours on every conceivable subject.

As you know, older men don’t typically have many male friends. I certainly don’t. However, the seven of us have become (over the past three years) extremely close friends and we console and support each other whenever anything “bad” happens in our families (usually illnesses or deaths), and we make suggestions to each other on how to solve problems. Our group has become so positive and enjoyable that our wives became jealous and have now formed their own group of seven women. They call their group JULIET, and they have their own monthly luncheons. About twice a year we have a party at one of our homes for all fourteen of the ROMEO and JULIET members.

We all tell each other that the ROMEO group has become a major and entirely positive aspect of our lives. We truly consider our group to be “family.” I could never have imagined that, at my age, I would become part of such a supportive and loving group of men. Frankly, we have all been surprised and so happy about what has occurred. Hopefully, our ROMEO group will continue for a long, long time.”(end quote)

Perhaps this will give you and idea to start your own group. I know that it has me. I have already asked a couple of friends and they are very interested. Now all that remains is to follow through. I have also spotted a restaurant that has a quiet spot for us to meet. I’m looking forward to getting it off the ground. Nothing like a new project to pick one up a bit.

Indeed, there are many ways to combat the position of isolation. We can volunteer, we can learn new skills, develop new interests or launch ourselves into one of many paths that lead to social interaction. But as we have learned in life - none of this happens without effort and action. We need to step forward. Hopefully, Steve’s letter will serve as incentive.

This is Retirement Talk.

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