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!