Old Age Is Not An Option

I know, I know, you find Aunt Beulah’s blog slightly amusing, but basically non-relevant. You’ll never be old, at least not old-old, and retirement is a concept as vague to you as Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Right.

Like many of you, my job consumed me. My life was career-centered and goal-oriented: another degree to earn, position to seek, skill to develop. I entertained the illusion that I would teach happily and well until I died a painless death, clutching my red pen, my head slowly sinking onto a pile of beautifully written student essays.

As a 1st-year teacher assuming eternal youth

As a 1st-year teacher assuming eternal youth

My classroom would be sealed and a placard hung: “Mrs. Janet Bohart Sheridan taught here; so use your quiet voices and spit out your gum.”

Now, six years into retirement, wondering when my skin began to resemble crepe paper, I’m glad I came to my senses in time to prepare financially and mentally for old age—a journey detailed in future posts.

When my father retired after forty-five years of blue-collar work in mines and steel plants, he tried to rearrange Mom’s cupboards, took up weaving hats for a miserable month, and mailed his offspring articles touting the consumption of large quantities of raw garlic.

Now there was a man ill equipped for retirement.

Fortunately, he rediscovered his enjoyment of reading, particularly Matt Helm novels. He started walking to the supermarket, post office, and bank rather than driving, and expanded his gardening repertoire—growing giant cabbages and purple potatoes. He also began driving his truck into the mountains to cut and haul firewood, which he split during the winter for all the “old folks” in town.

He was happy.

Take it from my dad and me: you will age as surely as your favorite team will eventually lose; and the more you think about what you want in retirement and take steps toward it now, the easier you’ll find the transition.

Have some thoughts
about retirement—
whether it’s forever away,
growing closer,
or your current status?
Leave a comment and make my day!

A Recap of Your Comments on Last Tuesday’s Blog
Evidently, sciatica hit a nerve. Deb expressed interest in easing her aches and pains by stretching, and thought rum and coke would enhance her efforts; Shelley noted that her posture, as she typed, was ramrod straight.

Mary remembered acting like me in high school: wearing flat shoes and slouching a bit so she wouldn’t be taller than the boys she liked. Fortunately, she self-corrected sooner.

Kathleen briefly contemplated giving up Diet Coke to improve her aging, but dropped the idea because without it she’d be even meaner.

Lucy and Noelle chose to ignore the suggested response and instead made connections between Aunt Beulah’s term “half-baked” and Colorado’s recent pot legislation. Jewels connected it to Jimmy Buffett. Ladies, ladies, ladies.

I hope to hear from more of you. Your comments are the reason I get up at 5:30AM to publish my posts—well, full disclosure: the smell of brewed coffee might get me out of bed even more than your responses.

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21 thoughts on “Old Age Is Not An Option

  1. Reading your “tall” comments reminded me that being “short” has provided its pain also. I wore REALLY tall shoes to make my legs look longer and thinner. I even found shoes that were “coal mine appropriate”, but had a 4 or 5 inch wedge. Then I started having a pain in the ball of my foot which could drive me out of the grocery store with a half full cart of groceries left in the aisle. Well, that was called Morton’s Neuroma which I ended up having surgery for on one foot and shots in the other to aleviate the pain. And then, guess what. My sciatic nerve started causing me pain and I am guessing it is from wearing shoes that were too tall. I now wear practical shoes, my legs don’t look long or thin anymore. And retirement looms, but that is for another day.

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    • Jeannie, isn’t it odd that we go through life trying to make ourselves look different than we do and then discover those we wanted to resemble are wishing they looked more like us. Then, thankfully, we reach a stage where we accept ourselves. I’m there. Most of the time.

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  2. I remember you Dad retiring. The 1st 6 months he basically laid around the house. I do mean this literally. I would come in and he would be laying on the floor in supreme self-pity! He didn’t know how to live without his work, it had defined him so long. Your Mother, ever the wise woman, put up with this for a while and let Dad wallow in misery. Then, one day your Mom gave him an ultimatum-find something to do or I will find something for you to do! Now, many of the tasks you Mom could think up did not appeal to Dad. Thus began his retirement journey. We were fortunate to be part of this journey. The memories of that time are precious to me.

    As for my “retirement”, I guess I’m there so to speak. I find joy in the freedom from a job to pursue what I’ve always wanted to do. I am blessed and also very busy! I still don’t have enough time to do all that I want to! Retirement should be about pursing your dreams that you set aside long ago.

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  3. Grandpa Bray was full of wisdom and Joy!! I often think of him while I’m standing in the ball field while being eaten alive by mosquitoes and gnats!! I find myself thinking, “If I only ate garlic like Grandpa did, then these pesky insects would leave me alone!!” Sadly, I think that if I would of done that, EVERYONE would gladly leave me alone!! You know – I think I may have found a solution to my “I’m Having a Bad Day and You Might Find It Beneficial To Leave Me Alone” mood!!

    Retirement seems to be looming ahead of me. Hopefully I can work until I’m VERY old because I, like the Grasshopper, find that I am very unprepared for this blessed occasion!!

    Keep writing, Aunt Janet!! I’m sure your wisdom will be beneficial to me!!

    On a side note (you know, I always seem to have side notes) – I think Grandpa did things to irritate Grandma just because he was bored and it was easy entertainment for him!! 🙂

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  4. I envy the passion you have found in writing your way through retirement. I flutter from one passion to the next….surely this one will become my life’s golden achievement, and then something new catches my eye and off I go
    (as you would say, “all willy nilly”) toward a new pretty thing. Photography, writing, pottery….Your blog today made me realize that this rather feckless nature of mine is just what made me suited for teaching. What a joyful and wild ride it was…..

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  5. Oh the memories!! The garlic, the quirky laugh, the jumpsuits, the driving, the switchbacks, but most of all the love…. your post brought back a flood of memories that are very welcome to my heart and soul. I better start planning now so I can age as gracefully as the two of you.

    I knew there was a reason that as a child, I would watch and listen to your every word. You have such a talent, Janet! I’m very envious in a very good way.

    I SO enjoy this talent of yours!!

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  6. Beautiful post..it’s beautiful because it tells the story of every life with such simplicity and honesty. We all dread old age, I am in mid-thirties and know that one day I will be old and my healthy body won’t be the same. Hence, I have started exercising and keeping a watch on my diet for healthy ageing. I aspire to do one more thing: keep negative thoughts away. Thanks a lot Aunt Beulah. It’s a very inspiring post.

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    • I appreciate your thoughtful comment, mammaspeaks. I want you to know you are way ahead of where I was at your age with your understanding that what you are doing now will impact your old age. And it sounds like you’re doing well.

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  7. So far this aging business all good. At 64, I have more time to do do things of my own choosing…read, walk, yoga, write, travel, see friends. I’m aiming for 100 and given my genes that seems within reach. Just don’t want to be crabby or insensible when I get their.
    I’m glad I found your site.
    Keep in touch. XO

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yup, you’re the one. (I only imagined that in this big world there might be another.) I have read your columns over the years when I’m on the Appeal website. It sounds like you’re being as successful at retirement as you were in the classroom. Let’s keep in touch.

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