Can you really play golf every single day? I know some of you will answer an arousing: YES! But after a time, the thrill of the game will decrease, and a certain unsettling routine sets in if not an outright compulsion. We probably think, “when I retire I can golf everyday”. It’s a nice thought but it reveals a lack of preparation for retirement. And a lack of preparation can make our sunny and bright Retirement Utopia of Sun City West turn into a Sun-less maze that we get lost in.
At least from my point of view, there are a few things that require preparation and planning. Most of you do an incredible job of doing the financial planning part. I hope you explain that to your children and grandchild because the next generations are mostly financially illiterate. But planning what to do with your time is equally important. To think you are going to golf all day, every day is not realistic. Once you are out of the workforce or done raising children, how will you spend your time, what will continue to give your life meaning and purpose? This seems easier for women than for men. Maybe because women are better multi-taskers. But for men who spent their lives being a “provider”, bringing home a paycheck, the loss of that daily routine can be disorienting. If you found meaning in being a provider, and there is much meaning in that, you will have to consider what being a provider looks like in non-work world retirement. One of the great parts about living where we do is that there is an abundance of ways to be active, continue to give back and use your talents or skills for new purposes in new ways. Golfing is fun but I’m not sure how much meaning and purpose you get from it.
Then there is the challenge of being together with your sweetheart 24/7. You can get on each other’s nerves. This is especially true if you are bored. You watch the other person’s every action and critic their behavior. “Why do you leave the cabinet door open all the time?” “You forgot to shut the garage door, AGAIN”. So, to avoid that, happy couples have outside interests that they do without their spouse. And worse, one spouse keeps busy and the other does very little outside the home. And then you get, “you’re always going out”, “where were you”. Your spouse turns into the NSA tracking your every move. Retirement is a new season in marriage and adjustments need to be made. Thirty or forty years of work outside the home to being home fulltime can make a very unhappy home unless you plan, adjust expectations and find common activities to do together.
Then the “eventualities” eventually happen. One spouse will start the decline. Have you talked about that, planned for it? Many of you have done a heroic job of caring for a declining spouse but for others it is just too heavy a lift. Does that mean bringing in some assistance or moving to Assisted Living? One of the really nice features of living here is that there are some really great Independent/Assisted Living residences where many of your neighbors have moved to, so you are not moving to a community with complete strangers. Additionally, you are still in the local area with your Parish Church, familiar shops, medical providers etc.
Winter visitors or as I like to call them, ‘fair-weather friends” have a few complications to work out. What happens when one of you grows ill and you are far from family? Have you thought that through? Do you have a local medical provider rather than trying to call your physician in Wisconsin? At what point being a part time resident no longer means living in the best of both worlds?
Then comes the really hard “until death do us part” part. I marvel at the beautiful long-term marriages among you, and I can’t even fathom what it feels like to lose someone you have been with for 50, 60 or more years. But when it does happen make sure you attend to the grieving process. Unresolved grief can be a source of both mental and physical health problems. Avail yourself to Grief Support (the parish will be starting a new one in October) so that you can learn to live with gratitude for the life you had with your spouse and not just sorrow that cripples you.
The aging process has blessings and curses for sure. I hope you can make the most of the blessings and limit greatly the downsides.
Fr. John B.BACK TO LIST