Tag Archives: Retired

Can One Be Over-Retired?

“The thing about being retired is that the days are all the same,” complained my friend as we were driving along to the art supplies shop in search of canvases and brushes. He is 83 and worked in his dental clinic up to a few months ago when he was forced by his professional indemnity insurance company to retire. “A high speed drill with one end in the patient’s mouth and the other end in a pair of shaky 83 year-old hands could be dangerous. They cancelled my insurance cover so I had to quit.” He spends most of his days painting, turning out beautiful canvases of landscapes with a portrait thrown in now and again to change the subject. He is also an avid football fan and never misses an important match on the TV. And he’s bored.

“I enjoyed working,” he says, “even though it was only two days a week. At least it got me out of the retirement home and into the city, allowed me to see and talk to different people and most of all, enabled me to practice dentistry which has been my occupation for over 60 years. I miss it. I need a break from retirement now and again. All this retirement is just too much!”

Next door to the art shop is a supermarket. “Let’s do something different for a change,” he said, pulling me into the store. “Where’s the Men’s Department?” We find a carousel loaded with bowls of olives, pickles, lemons, hot peppers and other delights and we stand and eat a few of the olives stuffed with chili. When we can breathe again we head for the wine counter where there are special displays and stalls selling wines for the coming Passover holidays.

We each drink a couple of glasses of a new Red from Australia before we decide we don’t like it. We’re out of the ‘retirement blues’ by now and we make for the cheese counter. We spend the next hour sampling thin slivers of goats’ and sheep’s milk cheeses and then we each buy a small slab to take home to show that we haven’t wasted the entire afternoon.

“This retirement home is really a great place, isn’t it?” says my friend as we walk into the lobby, “and there’s nothing quite like being retired, is there?”

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Who Says I Don’t Like Old People?

One of the things about running a blog is that you receive comments from people scattered around the world. As always when you let everyone have their say, some of the comments are great and others are critical. I have no standard procedure for dealing with them.

But today’s mail brought a comment from someone who says: “You mentioned at the beginning that you never really liked the term “old person,” but I bet that is because you associate old with a lot of the negative stereotypes that our society reiterates to us. Things like, ‘all older people are lonely, sad, complaining, etc.’ I am glad to hear your perspective may be changing away from some of these negative beliefs.”

I’m not really sure that I never liked old people. Now that I have joined the club and live happily among them, I like them. They are kind, mostly smiling, helpful, and considerate. They are interesting and sometimes fascinating. More important, they, I mean we, have come to terms with life. The rat-race is over for us. Not that we dropped out; we retired. We are still with you but sitting in the bleachers, watching the world from the sidelines, anxious to see that you newcomers carry on our good work.

In out 80 years of management we brought the world from a short-lifespan, smelly, disease ridden, pedestrian society to one of health and longevity. We got rid of the worst diseases and showed you how to work on the rest. We brought in education, transport and technology; we did a million different things to improve the world. Some bad stuff got caught up in there as well, but that’s inevitable.

I spend much time, these days, listening to seniors’ stories. They are simply amazing. Sometimes it’s impossible to grasp what the human being can endure, survive and reach an old age and still be able to tell the story. I like us old people…  Old people are awesome!


Working Seniors – An Oxymoron?

An oxymoron is defined much like it sounds – a complete contradiction of words. How could a senior, read “retired”, be a working one? Well, there seem to be more than a few in this retirement home. If you can make it down to the coffee shop by 8am any workday morning you will see them exiting in a great hurry, hobbling off to work. I too, belong to that class but luckily most of my work is done on the computer up here in our apartment. Today I was unlucky. A client insisted on seeing me on his premises.

I was picked up by a colleague and besides the meeting, we spent the rest of the day sitting in horrendous traffic jams, crawling along highways, cursing at the waste of time. Nothing helped. My colleague’s car, the latest French super-luxury model turned into a torture machine for my back as I sank deeper and deeper into the ultra-soft upholstery. It’s going to be a while before my bones regain their independence.

Putting myself in the client’s shoes I can’t help but wonder what he’s thinking right now: “I called this meeting. The bright young engineer I talked to brought along another engineer, but this one looked way beyond his ‘sell-by date’. True, he asked some good questions and he clearly has years of experience – he should have at his age. I wonder if we should call in another company.”

Speaking from within my own shoes, all I can say, sonny, is that we old guys are good. You will receive a great job of work from a master of the art of engineering which you could never get from a youngster…


The Story of Simon

I went down to the dining room at lunchtime today to buy something for dinner and as I walked out I saw Simon sitting and eating. I went over to him, wished him Bon Appetit and asked him how he was enjoying his meal.

“Absolutely delicious,” he replied. “I eat here every day and I enjoy every mouthful. My life never stops changing.”

“That’s great, Simon,” I said. “I am delighted to hear you are enjoying yourself.”

“Remember the first time you talked to me?” he asked.

“I remember it well.”

 

I had gone to some function on my own and sat in the back row of seats. Simon had come in and he sat next to me. I greeted him and said I hadn’t seen him before.

“I’m new here,” he said. “I’ve been here about a month and I don’t know anyone.”

I was surprised.

“Where are you from?” I asked.

“Haifa,” he replied. He started to talk then. “I came to this country 65 years ago. I went to Haifa. I got a job in an engineering office at the port. I worked there for 60 years. I met a woman and we married. We were married for 60 years. Our two children went to live in America. We lived in the same apartment for 60 years. We never went out and we never ate out. We had no friends. That’s just how it was. I was happy and my wife was happy. She died a year ago and I moved in here.”

“Moving in here has changed my life completely. I attend the lecture every evening and I am learning a lot. I go to all the concerts and I discovered that I love the music. I am learning to play bridge and I love it. I am painting in the studio and thinking about joining the ceramics group as well. And I exercise. For 60 years the only exercise I got was walking to the office and back every day.”

“I meet new people all the time and I even have a lady friend.” He blushed. “All this happened in the last 6 months since we met! Isn’t that something?”