On a clear and sunny day in March of this year, I went on a picnic. It was a gorgeous occasion, looked forward to by many of the lucky people who happen to live on Beth Ave in Florida.
Tapping our feet, clapping our hands in applause as some of our friends and neighbors entertained us with a happy guitar, an old upright piano, and old time songs that we mostly remembered, we spent several hours enjoying each others company.
The food, lovingly prepared by all of us, was everything you could have asked for. No, we didn’t have a campfire, we were in our community clubhouse, and we didn’t have to worry about bugs or ants or smoke in the air. There was a great variety of everyone’s specialty, and plenty of things to drink, and no one went hungry at this picnic. No one got into an argument about anything, there was plenty to go around our tables, and we even had door prizes so we didn’t go home empty handed. My special one and I managed to leave with a new mug that looked like Easter, filled with jelly beans, and another candle that smelled like lemon sherbet.
Now I ask you, how could a picnic be better than this? No dishes to wash, no children to keep track of, just a room full of seniors, having a picnic together on a sunny day in Central Florida, knowing that they are right where they belong.
So all of you millennials, look forward to your retirement years somewhere in the future. You may be as lucky as we to find your own Beth Ave picnic someday. It is something to look forward to!
Looking back at my somewhat helter skelter life, I am really having a rough time putting the thoughts about my past goals down on paper. Somehow I can never remember having any special goals other than the ones that are universal to all of us. When I was in my teens I wanted to grow up, get a “good” job, get married, have children, basically do all of the things that my parents had done, and have enough money to keep the bills paid.
My father had always drummed it into my head that I could do whatever I really wanted to do, and I believed that implicitly. The problem with that was that no one, including me, really believed that I would ever do much more than get married, raise children, go to church on Sunday, and in general live my life in the same way that I had been brought up.
But then along came the draft. I had married, and my husband was called up for duty, and so off we went, he joining the Army and I trailing along behind him. We lived in the West and in the South, and I began to realize that there was a whole different world out there than I had ever experienced. There were so many different ways of looking at things, and so many new people to meet.
After the service we went back home to Michigan and raised a family. Traveling had opened up my new world. At the same time women’s liberation had begun. It became more acceptable for girls to go to college or find work that fulfilled them in different ways than before. But at the same time we women still had to take care of our homes and our children. My main goal at that time was just to survive it all. I look back and remember how tired I was and how pushed I felt for a long long time.
Eventually the children grew up, the jobs got better, and traveling became one of the main goals in my life. Moving to Colorado and living in mountainous country fulfilled me for a long time. Cruises to Alaska later on in life bring fantastic memories to me even today.
Eventually I began to write, and to feel the urge to share my thoughts and feelings with others. This led to the goal of writing and publishing a book of poetry. I became obsessed with the thought that I could accomplish this and I wrote and worked and edited until my goal became fulfilled.
Now my goals seem to have quieted back down. I am back to thinking about the everyday facets of life again as I did when in my 20’a. Keeping house, connections with our children, writing, traveling, all has come full circle. The days when I had to keep pushing myself to get everything just so have faded into the past. I can take the time to do whatever I want to do, go for a ride with my husband, crochet, knit, read, read, read, and I don’t have to worry about whether my goals are getting met or not. I can study all of the things that I never had a chance to do when I was a young mother, and I can enjoy all that the world has to offer.
In a way it seems very odd to me that I have landed right back where I started. I venture that this is true for many women of my age. We are so fortunate that we have seen the best of both worlds, and now we can relax. We still remember when we cooked everything from scratch, had a wringer washer, and ironed the washing every Tuesday. We lived in a world where all of the normal people did pretty much the same things in the same way.
Now we can choose what we wish to do, and where we wish to go. That is enough of a goal for me. I have arrived at a great place and I am enjoying every step of the way.
Imagine a yearly reunion of 16 old friends today. They graduated from high school in a farming community 63 years ago. You might think this would be a pretty relaxed crowd. I didn’t know just what to expect myself. Looking at them, watching the I-Phones on display, listening to the animated discussions going on, you could be anywhere in any group of people. If this is what retirement is all about then we all should be so lucky! Don’t be afraid of time , dear bloggers, be happy for all of the people who are enjoying the fruit of their labor! It can be in your future too.