For two years, I’ve been a volunteer driver for Duet, a non-profit organization in Phoenix, Arizona, that assists seniors in arranging for transportation to and from their doctor appointments.
I have met a lot of lovely ladies in their eighties (most of my passengers are older women – perhaps they’re best at asking for help – or maybe it’s true – woman outlive men) who are happy to share a bit about themselves as we head off to a nearby appointment. I’m always struck by their dignity and resolve to carry on when family and friends seem to have either moved away, died, or simply left them to their own devices. I think it takes courage to face life when you’re unsure how you’ll get to the doctor, or when you need to plan to go to the pharmacy or going grocery shopping. I marvel at their resilience and strength. Most have raised families, buried husbands, and even buried children, and still, they go on with determination and a loving spirit.
I’ve always thought I’d be a terrible older person. Crabby, demanding, and ridiculously impatient with myself and everyone around. To be honest, I wasn’t so great at being young either. Surely, being ill-tempered would be a part of my aging process. But as I view these wonderful and unique individuals, I see a sparkle as they embrace life and I find myself thinking – perhaps – I might make a delightful older man. Someone who attracts people with a twinkle in his eye. Someone who astounds strangers with his positive attitude.
I’ve been very worried about my dog, Charlie.
In May, he was diagnosed with congestive heart disease. An enlarged heart that presses against his larynx and produces a cough whenever he gets too excited. An even though he’s thirteen in just a few weeks, I realize that I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to my bud. Not now, not ever.
He’s always been a sweet little guy. A sixteen pound apricot poodle with eyes that follow you around the room. Well, in reality, it isn’t just those eyes. He is constantly underfoot, yearning to be close. I’ve had dogs before and never let them sleep in the bed. But Charlie insisted. After a year of waking me up in the middle of the night, crying and yelping in his crate, I finally acquiesced and never looked back. Many a night I have found myself on the edge of the bed from his insistent pushing. Paws planted on my back. That’s dog love.
Every morning, we enjoy a 6 am walk. And as I stumble along, asleep, waiting for him to do his business, I see the world through poodle eyes. I observe what catches his fancy. What makes him so excited that he practically races from bush to bush. Charlie loves the morning. The walk and eating. I often think he’d enjoy the sunrise too if he’d only bother to lift his head and check it out.
Just the other day it hit me. Something odd was happening. I’d noticed the feeling before. It was a growing excitement.
It had all started with my first desktop computer in the mid-1980s. Then, the microwave showed up. The CD player. I remembered seeing it all before.
Then, the cell phone. Laser surgery. The iPhone. Skype. Texting.
The speed of innovation was changing our lives.
The Kodak Instamatic disappeared. Encyclopedias. The landline phone barely ever rang. Televisions changed from small boxes with five or six channels to wall mounted, computerized widescreens with hundreds of channels.
PayPal and Bitcoin emerged. The predictions that paper money would soon be disappearing.
Then the news of driverless cars jolted me.
I know what you’re thinking. You really don’t want a 2nd career. You’ve worked hard all your life and now all you want to do is chill out.
I completely understand.
But the reality is that when you retire, there’s going to come a day, when you look about and think: What the heck am I gonna do today? Worse: What the heck am I doing tomorrow?
The clock will hang over you like an armed-guard—unwilling to let you pass through what seems like an endless afternoon. Every time you look up, it’ll be two o’clock. Groundhog day. Now how can that be, you’ll think. Wasn’t it just two o’clock a few hours ago?
So if you’re over 55, here are three tips to help you get prepared for that big day when you’re at the company retirement party, or worse, when security shows up to walk you out the door. If you’re planning on being carried out on a stretcher, covered with a sheet, you can stop reading now.
Why “stop thinking” just because you prefer to sleep late in the morning? Now’s the time, when you hold that impressive title, to work with those companies that capture your interest and build relationships. Whether you’re a volunteer, or step into a paid consulting role, having some place to go three times a week when you stop working can be a blessing between all those tennis and golf games.
I happened to catch an episode of the Brady Bunch on the very morning that Hillary Clinton was to accept the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. That’s what I do when I wake up at 4:30 a.m. I sit in front of the television with a cup of coffee, blinking hard until the world comes into focus. 1970’s sitcom television is about all I can handle. It’s my precursor to the morning news.
Odd, I thought as I watched the episode unfold. “The Liberation of Marcia Brady” raised awareness about feminism, women libbers, and equal rights. Seemingly audacious concepts back in 1970’s America.
Well the cultural wars have come – but not gone. And like opening a time capsule—the episode reminded me that change comes slowly. But it does come.
Here we are, all these years later, and thankfully, no man or woman would dare raise concerns about Hillary Clinton’s viability as a candidate based solely on her gender. In the 1970’s—that couldn’t have been possible.
It made me realize how far we’ve come as a Nation.
Now it’s time for America to get onboard with equal pay for equal work. Marcia and Hillary deserve nothing less.