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Carol Perkins: A new perspective on retirement

'Guy thought retirement might look good, but after a month of being at home away from his travels, he has changed his mind.'
Next earlier column: The beginning of the story: Carol Perkins: What goes around . . .

By Carol Perkins

Guy stood looking out the picture window in the den for several minutes. "Do you see something?" I asked. Normally, he doesn't stand and look for no reason. "No, just looking." For the last week, neither of us has been worth a dime, as the saying goes. Snow has a way of slowing down the mind and the body. "I think I'll go scrape the snow off the truck," he said. Of course, I had to ask why. We weren't going anywhere. "Just something to do," he replied. More than one man has had a heart attack in temperatures below freezing while exerting themselves scraping off sidewalks or shoveling snow. There was no point to either. We had nowhere to be or reason to leave. If either of us needed medical help, we'd call for it.

I continued reading my book, but out of the corner of my eye, I watched him. He paced, looking out various windows. "The squirrels are having a field day," he said. "The birds are eating the seeds you threw out. The redbirds won't let the others eat until they are finished. That old tomcat is back again looking for food." This man needed something to do. "Why don't you read a good book?" I asked. He wasn't in the mood. "Why don't you clean out the drawers of your desk?" He had already done that. "Why don't you go through your closet and pull out clothes you don't wear and we'll give them away." He had no intention of doing that.

"What about lunch?" he would ask daily followed by what we were having for dinner. Each meal became the highlight of his day. He was obsessed with the weather channel, giving me an hourly report. After three days of pacing and thinking about the next meal and reporting on the weather, he made an announcement. "If this is what retirement looks like, I am not interested. I don't want to get up every morning without a plan. I would go nuts and drive you crazy." I assured him that in his case, a man without a host of hobbies or outside interests, this is the picture of retirement. I said, "You could retire and then run for something like magistrate or city council. That would keep you busy." Years ago, he was on the local school board and learned "serving" is not without complications. "Seriously?" he said. I wasn't serious at all.

Guy thought retirement might look good, but after a month of being at home away from his travels, he has changed his mind. As long as we have been married, his profession has taken him throughout various states. Being self-employed for the last few years has given him flexibility, but not the desire to be out of the mix of the business world. "As long as you feel like it, you need to work," I said with a smile. He knew what I meant.

This story was posted on 2018-01-18 11:22:30
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