Readers convey secrets of success

October 22, 2012

Stacy from Long Neck wrote to give me her retirement advice. “Establish a routine! On Mondays and Wednesdays I go to the YMCA. On Tuesday I volunteer at the Soup Kitchen. Friday I play Mahjong! Simple. Every week is the same.”  I taught school for over 25 years Monday through Friday, and I prayed for any interruption from a routine - hail, a tornado, a flash flood. I even kissed Betty’s snow frog, housed in her kindergarten menagerie as it was reported a guarantee of at least a two-hour delay. However, I think Stacy is onto something.  Retirement finally affords me the luxury to establish my own routine, and I am overwhelmed with the choices and afraid I will make the wrong ones.

Nancy, in downtown Rehoboth, wrote to say that life there is never dull because she can walk everywhere. When she feels lonely she walks the Boardwalk or the beach and enjoys eyeing all the many shapes and sizes of tourists. I like Nancy’s pastime, and I too love walking and biking in Rehoboth and Lewes as well as places like Trap Pond State Park.

“Volunteer at the Tunnell center and then you will appreciate life more,” one friend told me. Many of you think that volunteering is the best of both worlds. I have tried a few things, but haven’t found the right fit. When I volunteered at one thrift shop, I was given a detailed directive about the proper hanger to use for each item. I spent about three hours unloading donated clothes from bags, but another hour and a half determining which ones were wearable according to a stringent code set up by the chief volunteer. I need a kind of whistle-while-I-work atmosphere if there is no paycheck.

Finally, several readers said that grandchildren were the best part of their retirement. I am hoping that it happens to me, but I am not blessed yet. However my best friend came to visit with her 3-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter last month and I got an education. Samantha didn’t want to eat her lunch with sandy feet, so my grandma friend devised the “dangle the child and dip method” whereby she suspended the child in the air and carefully dipped each foot into a bucket of salt water before propping the princess onto her beach chair. Only then was she handed her sippy cup. Fascinating to watch! Next to us was a 3- or 4-year-old boy who had filled his swim trunks with so much sand that they were weighed down around his ankles. I couldn't help but notice that his grandmother paid no attention to him when he stuck his entire head and toes into the sand in the downward dog position before his older sister said, “Lie still now. I need to bury you.” I want to hear from people who leave the house. Have you found happiness in a part-time job or in volunteering? Or both? Write to me at the Cape Gazette and share your adjusting to retirement stories. As I look for work and also volunteer in our community, I will share my journey too, and maybe we can learn from each other.

There it goes again! Tah dah! That fanfare sound in the dining room means my husband just won another game of solitaire.  Ah, retirement seems so much easier for some, or is it?

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