Tales of Retirement
By Anson Laytner
Interreligious Initiative Program Manager,
School of Theology & Ministry, Seattle University
Retired April 2015
Every weekday morning, I see my wife off to work while I stay home to enjoy the fruits of my silver years. And every evening, when she comes home, I’m there to greet her in my apron, dinner on the table and with a martini in hand – which she refuses and I drink. (Actually, this never happens – but I do cook dinners.)
I am 14 years older than my wife and, if we played out the above scenario, I’d be 80 by the time she hits retirement age in America. And that could be a problem for us because even the spriest 80-year-olds I know aren’t exactly spry. I’m ready to travel the world now; Richelle would also like to travel, but she has student loans to pay and career ambitions that tie her to the working world. By the time she retires, I’ll be ready for a nice long nap.
Being retired – a buzz-killer
But we don’t have to wait for issues to pop up. If we go to a party of her peers, everyone always comes around to asking me: “And what do you do?” Being retired, in this crowd, is a buzz-killer; retirement is only a small step away from death. Politely, they inquire: “Soooo, how do you spend your time?” They don’t really want to know. I am irrelevant.
People at different life-stages usually can’t relate to one another. I remember being single and listening to my married friends in the family way go on and on about their babies, and then being at their stage and listening to my single friends go on and on about their struggles in finding a mate. Boring! I get it. These younger folk can’t relate to me. Nor could I when I was that young. But I also know that when I hear genuinely old people (75 or older) kvetch about their aches and pains, I can’t relate either. Can’t they talk about anything else?!
Don’t dismiss me just yet
But it hurts to be dismissed. I want to recite my curriculum vitae. I taught at Seattle University; I was a mover and shaker on the Seattle interfaith scene; I’ve written books; I used to look hot…Now I’m just old; and retired; and irrelevant…
Except that, deep down, I know that I’m not. I’m still writing. I still have my mind (most of the time). And I have wisdom about relationships and work and the meaning of life. Okay, I may not be hot, but I’m still passionate. So don’t dismiss me just yet.
When my wife gets home, she’ll tell me all the trivial things that happened during her workday and I’ll be ready to tell her what really matters. We’ll find a good, middle ground between our ages and experiences, and I’ll be content.
(By the way, we hope that our finances will enable Richelle to retire early so that we can do whatever our hearts desire before I shuffle off this this mortal coil.)