No matter how many articles I read saying Baby Boomers can’t or won’t retire, it seems quite a few of us are! Friends and acquaintances seem to be canceling their commutes, rolling over their 401Ks, and wearing more comfortable shoes at a fairly regular pace. Baby Boomers are retiring, but we’re doing it with a bit more inspiration, and a lot more activity, than past generations.
The Boomers probably haven’t held one job through out their careers but several, with a few entrepreneurial adventures (like giving up a good-paying job to be a freelance writer!) along the way. We still appreciate the classic retirement stories, however.
Driving down a street in Colorado Springs I was captivated by this sign in the window of a shuttered barber shop: “Sorry, the Barber Shop is CLOSED. After 54 years, I have retired. To all my customers, THANK YOU!” It was simply signed, “Benny.”
I never met Benny, don’t know him at all, but I’m so proud of him and wish him well. Can you imagine the number of lives he touched in 54 years of working as a barber? How many military haircuts did he give to brave, young soldiers? How many teenage suiters did he make presentable for their proms? How many businessmen felt more confident after a little time spent with Benny? Think of how the topics of conversation, the political debates, and even the jokes would have changed over 54 years. A lot of life was lived out in that small shop. And the world was improved one head of hair at a time. Job well done, Benny!
Another retirement story caught my eye, this time the work span was 57 years. The Associated Press reported that a man named Mel, living in Gloversville, NY, delivered newspapers for The Leader-Herald. He delivered 220 to 300 newspapers a day, seven days a week, for 57 consecutive years before retiring at age 87. That’s more than five million papers! I think we can also say to Mel, job well done.
I don’t know how Benny and Mel plan to spend their retirement years, but for the Boomers there may not be a rocking chair in sight. This spring both my sister and my husband are entering into stages of retirement. My sister Mary left the residential construction company she founded and managed for almost 30 years. Whenever she wants to revisit her work life, all she has to do is drive around Knoxville, TN, and admire the many beautiful custom homes she built. She’s still waiting to see what her retirement will look like, but I’m sure it will include service to others, grandkids, and golf.
And then there’s my husband, Jim, who hits a milestone birthday on April 30 and simultan- eously retires from a significant portion of the business he has built over 33 years of self-employment. He will still continue with another segment of his business, and will maintain an office routine (whew!), but I’m excited to see what more free time will bring. I hope his semi-retirement includes more travel, more golf, and more personal ministry. Having watched him “self-motivate” day after day, with no boss to prod him nor employees to support him, I stand amazed and proud of him for the wonderful living he has made for us. My admiration, gratitude, and love overflow.
And me? Well, here’s the thing. When you are a writer, that’s just what you are, not your job. Someday I may be a little old lady scratching out poems on napkins in coffee shops, but I’m pretty sure I’ll always be writing something. It’s a good life. And now it’s one that affords me plenty of time to embrace anything else life has to offer. God willing, I’ll just join in with the other Boomers who are retired and inspired, but far from expired!
Julie Smith says
How timely, Nancy!
I’m joining the retired Baby Boomer crowd in another month. Lots of ideas of what I want to do (but no golf). After 34 years of book editing I’ll have time to read more for pleasure.
Oh Julie, what great news! Congratulations on this new chapter of your life. You have definitely earned it!
W Terry Whalin says
Thank you for this wonderful article. As another writer, I agree that there is no retirement and I will be continuing to write until my final days on the planet. It’s just how I’m wired as well. Keep up the good work with these blog posts.
Thank you, Terry. I’ll see you in the coffee shop some day. Hope they have plenty of napkins!
Deborah Turner says
I loved your story, Nancy! Thanks for sharing it with us!! Retirement is so many things and brings forth so many feelings.
Indeed it does, and most of them good! Thanks, Deborah.
Deb Limoge says
Thanks for sharing these interesting and relevant stories of retirement!
I just entered the world of retirees last week myself! Am looking forward to many outdoor activities ( most definitely to include golf?️♀️) and to see what God brings in this new chapter of life.
Congrats and Happy Birthday to Jim as well!
Thanks, Deb, and congratulations to you! Well-deserved.
Elizabeth Van Liere says
Agreed. Can’t stop writing!
A word of advice to those who keep working and thinking I’ll travel more, volunteer more, read more, do more with my husband/wife–when I retire. So glad my husband and I did it while we could. Too many couples waited too long and life ended for one or the other soon after that great day arrived.Betty
Oh, Betty, how right you are. I’ve bought 5 “sorry you lost your husband” cards this year alone. Can’t take one single day for granted. Thanks for the reminder.
Jan Keller says
Count me among the “more comfortable shoes” group!
What an enjoyable read!
And me! It’s amazing where I’ve decided tennis shoes are now acceptable!!
Karen Else says
As usual, your blogs are an inspiration to both Harlan and me. Congratulations to Jim on his 70th birthday and partial retirement! Thank you again for the wisdom you provide as we go through our “golden” years.
P.S. Harlan says he is certainly going to try and fill Jim’s volunteer time with more “opportunities” at church.(-:
Ha ha! I’ll tell Jim Harlan has plans for him! Thanks, Karen!
Beth Lueders says
You are retired and INSPIRING! Thank you, Nancy. And happy birthday and almost-full retirement to Jim.
So many grand adventures ahead for both of you. And Benny, Mel and Mary.
Thanks, Beth. Funny to think we may meet up with Benny or Mel along the way. I’m sure we’ll meet up with Mary!
Joe Bruner says
Well said. I sincerely believe that retirement is the best gig around. I love that we’re given the freedom to explore the interests and activities we’ve put on hold while we earned our way. We’re now free to expand on whatever gifts God blessed us with. Most significantly, we no longer have to be in a hurry to do anything. I miss my co-workers, the challenges of a career, and the paycheck that represented hard work, but I wouldn’t trade my current lifestyle for anything.
You and Helen really do retirement right, Joe! I hope Jim transitions as well as you have some day when the time is right. Thanks!
Roger retired last July when we relocated but when the winter came on and outside projects were not on the docket, retirement went out the window. Roger missed the patients he had helped give vision to. So he ins now working 2 days a week and enjoying meeting new faces in a new town. Fortunately spring is here and the gardens and landscape projects will give him relief from holding a fishing pole everyday. Life is good and we continue to learn so much more about one another. We met when we were 15 and 16 years old and you would think we would know everything there is to know about one another. Life is a glorious journey and best when shared with one you love.
Glad to hear Roger is finding just the right balance, Cheryl. I know he is still much appreciated. Enjoy gardening at your new home!
Don’t forget that you’ll continue with the Book Club!
Right, Sue. And my life isn’t changing although Jim’s is, so I guess mine will too!