My girlfriend, Mary, who is 9 years older and I have occasional discussions on retirement and our elderly mothers. Our mothers were born in the 1925 and 1939; her mother is 93 years old and my mother is 78.
We agree our lives are much different than our mothers. The world has changed a great deal in the way of technology and the pace of life. Our mothers do not grasp technology let alone know how to retrieve voice mail messages from cell phones or how to recharge them (including their hearing aids) or, like my mother who recently mistakenly washed her cell phone in the washing machine.
Yet the one thing our mothers have grasped is the cell phone is always with their children and grandchildren. So why don’t we call more often? “It only takes a minute,” my mother was lamenting to me yesterday about her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“Yes, it does,” I say, “I’ve spoken to the boys about this several times.” But I don’t defend my sons by saying, “But mom, you get up at 6:00 a.m. (why? you’re retired for goodness sake!) and you go to bed right after dinner at 6:30 p.m. When they think to even call me, their mother, it is well past 10 p.m.”
My sons are in college full-time, have jobs, and homework with small amount of time to socialize with friends. They love and adore their grandmother. They make time to see her just not as often as their grandmother would like.
My mother does not have hobbies. She is a white-glove housekeeper and loves to do laundry although she may only have her and her husband’s clothes from the previous day to launder. Besides laundry, church and trying to find one more wall to paint or change in the house, she does not have any hobbies except perhaps reading.
I love my mother. I do. Every telephone conversation, even after just visiting her ends in “when are you coming down to visit?” (she lives an hour away), or “no one ever calls me” (I call her 1-2 times a week.)
This is not how I want to be with my sons when I retire.
My friend, Mary does not have children. She dutifully calls her mother every Tuesday and Saturday. Mary’s father passed away over a year ago from Alzheimer’s. Her mother is despondent and is also showing signs of dementia. Her mother refuses to participate in any activities, even church on Sunday. She refuses to live in assisted-living facility where she could mingle and associate with people her own age. And no matter how involved Mary and her sisters are in assisting their mother with meals, doctor appointments, weekly telephone and personal visits, it is never enough or good enough.
This is not what my friend Mary wants to become when she retires.
I know one day I will feel as my mother does. I am preparing myself for it. I miss my sons when I don’t see or hear from them as often as I would like. I try to remember when I was there age wanting to be independent, creating a life for myself, and later in life getting married and having children. Life takes over our good intentions. If that is an excuse, so be it.
Preparing myself for when retirement finally arrives.
Writing isn’t my full-time job although I would like it to be. I write whenever I can at night and on the weekends. I have a full-time job during the week with a national mortgage bank.
When my sons ask me why I write and why I like blogging, I respond this is my retirement. This is what will keep me from annoying you when I retire, I say. This is what I like to do and what I must do. I must write.
Writing into retirement
Mary and I agree that retirement is about finally having the chance to do what we love to do. Hopefully, we add that we will still be healthy in mind, body, and spirit for when we do decide to retire.
What I love to do
Am I a good writer? Only my readers can tell me if I am a good writer. Good enough that maybe someday I can sell a book or get paid to do a little bit of writing. But even if I’m not good enough for all that I hope I am not like our mothers whose lives revolve around a cell phone or my children’s next visit.
I love my mother. I do. And one day she will no longer be here asking me the question, “when are you going to come down to visit?” And I know deep in my heart I will miss that conversation.