Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


876 As We Age

Retirement brings many changes into our lives. And one of the mandatory ones is that we get older. Our body changes right along with our daily activity and actions. We might find ourselves roaming more freely for some time and then eventually the clock ticks accumulate and we find ourselves slowing down just a bit more each day or each year. Sort of like a car that we bought brand new twenty or thirty years ago: things start to go wrong. 

I am presently recovering from having a system of stents .placed inside my iliac artery. This follows another stent that was placed in the main aortic artery 9 years ago. It seems my arterial walls are starting to weaken and these little bulges appear which if left to their own tendency will expand until they blow out, bleed out and leave me dead on the floor. This used to be one of nature's ways of cleaning the deck for the next generation. 

Modern medicine and technology have now intervened to be able to circumvent this problem with highly technical medical devices and skill. I spent one early morning on the table under care of a highly skilled vascular surgeon.  Within three hours the newest technology was installed and I was being carted back to the recovery room in a very modern, well equipped hospital. The facilities and staff were excellent and within twenty four hours I was being prepared to be released to recover at home. Amazing. 

What I want to say about this experience is that health issues become more and more personal as we move into and through retirement. Our interest and attention become very relevant individually. 

I keep comparing my physical health to my car’s  physical health. I have tried to take good care of my own health and the health of my car. I exercise regularly, eat a pescatarian diet, get all the health checkups suggested (including all vaccines), try to limit anxiety and enjoy each and every day. My car is treated with similar care: all repairs suggested are made quickly, the tires are replaced and the body washed and kept clean. But, we are both getting older. We get repairs to this and that but we know we are nearing the end of the road. The muffler goes, the thyroid gland needs assistance, the arteries thin and the tires need replacing, the eyes need glasses or surgery and the car windows won’t operate with the switch, the body will no longer absorb Vitamin B12 and the fuel pump needs replacing. Things break down. Some can be repaired and some can not. My car is 24 years old and I am over 80. 

None of this is as bad as it may seem. I still like the car and it serves us well. And I still like living. It has served me well. But I am ready to walk. It is spring as I write this and new flowers are blooming: the bright yellow daffodils and colorful tulips. Cherry trees are popping and fresh green leaves are appearing. New birth surrounds me. 

Retirement has been good. But as the end of life gets ever closer it is satisfying to note that it all requires rejuvenation for continuation. Life without ending would not be good. Think of how many babies would not ever grow into children that would have a chance at finding some place to play, some place to grow and develop, someplace to enjoy. If we older folks didn’t get out of the way the earth would be a very crowded place. It would not be very pleasant to live in a world of old folks and old cars littering the landscape. Me and my car: we are getting close. And we must accept: that is good. As the old philosophical lesson taught to Sysiphus  goes: you have to learn to love your rock.

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