My Dream Life Still Stretches Out Ahead of Me
I remember the whole time I was growing up, my grandmother was retired.
I remember my dad really looking forward to retiring.
I remember my mom choosing to retire a few years early because: grandkids.
But then I remember my father-in-law retiring and basically having nothing to do. He spent most of his time in his apartment because he didn’t golf or volunteer; he didn’t have a specific hobby, and he didn’t enjoy travel.
Nope. Nope, nope.
The other things I saw varied. My grandmother traveled to Florida every winter, lived in a condo, and golfed to her heart’s content for several years into her retirement. Eventually, arthritis got the best of her and she remained living in the same home she had lived in for her entire married life, until she could no longer live there, and finished things out by living a few months in a nursing home — literally, like four months. I’d like to think she was pretty much unaware of those months.
My dad was a super hardworking, barrel-chested Irishman who had saved up early three years worth of vacation and sick time, figuring he’d just get the paycheck at the end, and was looking to retire within a year or so, but then dropped dead in his office, in the back of a Pennsylvania State Liquor store.
My mom decided she didn’t want to miss out on the occasional Kindergarten graduation or Sesame Street Live experience and that she wanted to see my toddlers be toddlers while she still could. Having learned from my dad’s experience, she opted out when the school district handed an early buyout, but that meant she lived on some modest purse strings. Teachers and civil servants aren’t destined for astonishing wealth, and the early exit didn’t help matters.
My father in law, though he didn’t retire early, had been a mail carrier and then postmaster, so he was in the same boat. No one I knew was eating cat food, but no one was cruising around the world, either.
So that’s where I’ve landed. These modest incomes, or these lives of limitation.
I don’t want to have anything to do with that, really.