Several days ago I received a note from an elderly gentleman who last year relocated to a Sunbelt city and purchased a condominium in one of the gated communities we find scattered across Arizona and South Texas. I speak of him now simply because he’s one of too many who’s given me their day to day activities in those areas while living out their retirement years. It scares me to think how many million men there are in their 70’s, 80’s, and even 90’s who’ve been living the same doldrum life of doing nearly nothing other than playing cards with the group, having coffee with the boys, watching TV, possibly playing a little golf, putzing around their dwellings, sitting in the sun visiting with neighbors, and doing about as little as possible to keep their bodies and especially their minds active. One particular gentleman who used to come in the office on a once a month basis during his stay here in the summer, would tell me what some of his activities were while here. His life revolved around having breakfast with his regulars at one of the fast food joints, coffee at one of the shops with another group, and late afternoon beers at one of the local taverns. His physical activities were not much more than a few rounds of golf when the weather and his initiative were up for it.
He retired from teaching many years ago and I found it a bit sad that he didn’t reach out to help students whose academics were struggling, or even more so, that someone didn’t reach out to him. I heard he passed away some months ago and will remember him as a gentle man who always seemed to be looking for purpose in his last years. On the flip side of this seemingly normal retirement scenario, there lives here in Mason City a retired couple who go south for the winter like hundreds of others from our area. The major difference between this couple and nearly all the others is that when they get there, they busy themselves with creating small gift bags of food and a few toiletries for the poor people who live across the border in an impoverished Mexican community. They’ve even gone so far as to assist them with some of their very basic home construction needs. The size of those homes are likely similar to a one stall garage, but a 100% better than what they used to call their homes. This couple are very quiet about their labors of time and materials. When I found out what they’d been doing for years, I was almost speechless when they just happened to tell me one day when I was helping them with a real estate transaction. Even though they’re getting older by the year, I’m sure they’re doing everything they can to help those in need.
All the periodicals that speak of where to live and the things to do during our retirement years speak rarely about what the elderly can find to do to keep their bodies and minds active in giving back to humanity. A rather selfish person who retired some time ago spent most of his life piling funds into his retirement account so he and his wife could retire early, and into their golden years they did fly. They moved away to some sunny place and I’m sure they’re doing exactly nothing to give back. We all have our thoughts on how to comfortably get to our golden years due to all the external forces giving us ideas, but there’s lacking many great possibilities in how to give back. Sadly I think them our retirement years, instructions without incentive. Let’s keep the options open.