“I had this vision that I can continue to work and do radiation at the same time” said Shirley, when I asked how retirement happened for her. That was what she originally planned, but when the doctor she had been working with for over 14 years retired, she decided that she would retire too. She felt that she would unemployable at her age, because the industry she was in tended to prefer having a younger staff. Shirley went on to say “Boy, am I glad that I did retire as I would not have been able to function at work after a treatment.” For the last two years, Shirley has been “feeling crappy.” Her words exactly.
Much like the rest of us, her vision of what retirement would look like did not pan out. Finances were reversed, health issues intervened – life unfolded in a different way than what she expected. Today, Shirley is working hard at re-creating a new environment for herself. She was planning to move to another state to be closer to her sister, but her doctor advised her to stay put for a while and not bring added stress; to wait until she got her strength back and to feel healthier and fit. So, she is doing just that while exploring some activities that she could be doing to stay busy and to also try to find a part-time job to bring in a little bit of money.
We discussed some options. She mentioned she was organizing a weekly get together “coffee and pie” for the community members in her housing development. “A great idea – there must be others who are also eager to meet up with neighbors on a weekly basis for friendship, conversation and fun” I chimed in. Another idea Shirley had was to put together far and near service program, taking other seniors to the market, to the movies, to the mall, as well as trips to interesting places nearby or further away. Shirley shared that her earlier experiences in the travel industry is a good background on “how to get this done!”
A third idea is to plan reunions for high-schools, colleges, families. She planned and a ran a huge reunion for her own high school a short while ago, spending hours and hours searching and finding people to invite. (“I must have made between 600-700 calls following every lead!” Shirley added.) A tremendous skill to have in her pocket, indeed. And one that could be done from home via e-mail, telephone and the internet for searching purposes.
Confessing to a touch of depression and weariness, Shirley sighed…as I reminded her that we all go through that. Since she is now on the mend from her illness (complete remission!), it is time for her to nurture her body and her mind. Thinking things through to determine what would be the next step for her needs time, so Shirley is on the right path to becoming her old self again. Happily, in a follow-up chat her mood was amazingly positive…We are rooting for you Shirley!
We are on it!
Photograph of Shirley’s expert computer hands from The Personal Collection of Helene and Zaf
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