Taking The Tired out of Retired

I have retired twice. I retired from teaching many years ago. Went back to school and became an auditor and designed conveyor systems for a national chain. I took early retirement from that career.

My early days of retirement were busy taking care of my mom, her sister, and my many critters and responsibilities. After my husband, my mother, and her sister passed away, I was suddenly left with no one to take care of but me and my remaining animals.

I allowed depression and laziness to move in and rob me of some precious time. I died on March 11, 2016, from a pulmonary embolism. Since I am an organ donor I was kept on life support until my organs could be harvested. I woke up within an hour of the surgery to remove my organs. I woke up just long enough for everyone to know I was still alive and then went into a coma for 2 months.

When I finally got back home, I spent 2 years frightened to leave my house. I had been playing on my computer one minute and suddenly woke up 2 months later in a hospital almost 100 miles from my home. It scared me.

I ordered everything online. I did not talk to anyone except a very pushy neighbor. She really just wanted to make sure I was all right but to me, at the time, I thought she was pushy. Long story short my death had made me retire from life. I was grateful to be alive but had not yet tried to understand the meaning of it all. I did not even go out on my front porch. I watched TV, I played on my computer. I got so involved in not being involved I began to get tired of everything. I was too tired to stay up very long.

I started sleeping almost all the time. My energy level went down. I did less each day. It started affecting my balance. My legs trembled when I walked. I was so far down, wallowing in depression, I did not realize I was even there. I thought I was happy. I played with my animals and talked to them all day long. You would be surprised how many arguments I lost because I just got tired of trying. I even slept in a chair one night so the dogs could have the sofa. All I knew was… I was tired and I got more tired the less I did.

My pushy neighbor called some people. A volunteer came by to bring me lunch one day. My neighbor called me and told me she had set me up with an agency. I took the lunch. I thanked them and closed the door quickly. My house was a mess and I wanted no one inside. Time passed. This individual came by every day for 4 days each week and brought me something to eat. Then I fell and hurt my ankle. I could not answer the door. I decided I would make my way to the front door, unlock it, and yell for them to come inside. I would just make a joke about the maid’s day out and they would give me my lunch and then leave. That was the plan I had in my head.

The knock came at the door, I yelled for them to come inside. A very nice man came in holding my lunch. I was sitting on the sofa with a TV tray set up in front of me. He asked me where I kept my flatware. I told him. He made no facial signs that he even noticed the mess the house was in but just went to the kitchen and brought me the fork and spoon I would need to eat. He sat down without being asked. We started chatting.

This practice continued for well over six months. He and his wife even came one day and visited with me while they cleaned my house and took out all the trash. I did not ask them. They did not ask me. I met his wife and everything just unfolded from there. No judgments. Just the help and company I so desperately needed.

I got to where I looked forward to him coming by to visit with me. When I asked him to he even prayed with me. It was not a big thing to him but was a really big thing to me. I had been drowning in hopelessness that had grown like a cancer and spread into not caring about much of anything except my animals.

My visits from the volunteer turned the light on for me in the darkness I was living. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and it was not a freight train.

I started writing down some of the stories I had been telling him. My memory started coming back. Not that I had lost actual memory but I had forgotten all the goodness that I had been blessed with throughout my life. The more I shared it the more I remembered.

I have been totally retired since I was 58. I am 68 now so it has taken me 10 years to finally get the hang of it. Don’t let it take you that long. Learn from my mistakes.

I started volunteering to help others and suddenly my life became very busy. I had more energy because my focus was not on myself. I had friends. I had people who actually cared. It did not take much a few minutes of my time. Then again… what else did I have to give them.

I was in reality giving myself more time because I was no longer just watching it go by. My life had been spared but it took a volunteer, who wanted nothing from me; to wake me up. I found the more I did … the more I could do.

I went from needing a walker and motorized carts and hauling around an oxygen machine to total independence from both. I don’t even use a cane anymore. I push my own buggy at the grocery store.. that I drive to .. by myself. I still order things online but it is things I do not want to carry from the car to the porch like 50-pound bags of dog food.

If you are bogged down with the thought of retirement, volunteer somewhere. Read to the blind, visit nursing homes, and talk to tenants at a senior citizen center. Participate in life. That little visit could change your ending as well as someone else’s. It makes no difference what you talk about, just being there is the key.

You now have the time to live and appreciate the life you have been given. Show others their life matters too. Don’t take ten years to learn that you have only retired from work. Do not retire from life.

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