Daddy was good at retirement

Published 1:52 am Saturday, October 27, 2012

During my daddy’s working years, I often heard him say, “I can’t ever do what I want to do for doing what I have to do.” Even after a long, hard day at work, he usually had some project going at home as well. When we lived in a house furnished us by the coal mining company he worked for, he installed a bathroom in it. Then he busied himself building a shack in the backyard to house my mother’s wringer washer. In later years, he built a sleeping porch across the back of the house my parents owned. Then he finished a partially completed basement apartment in it.

As I reflect on his words, I suspect they were only half-true. He enjoyed all those projects because he liked to stay busy. He was one of those hard-working people who looked forward to retirement. At last, he would have time to do what he wanted to do. And he did. Sometimes he slept until 10 a.m. or later and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast. He took time to read a newspaper every morning. He was never in a rush in those days. I could never understand why he waited until the heat of the day to begin work in the nice garden he planted every spring. But there was a shade close by where he went to cool off when he got too hot.

When the World Series baseball games were underway, he often sat in the door of the little storage shed he had built behind his garden and tuned the games in on the radio. At the same time, he could survey his crops.

He had time to mow, trim, and do whatever work he wished in the yard. And he kept some kind of carpentry work underway all the time.

Now that I look back, it wasn’t so much what he was doing as the fact that he was enjoying life after all those years of routine and toil. He didn’t have to get up the same time every morning in order to arrive at work on time. If he wanted to sleep late, it was his choice. I have never known anyone who enjoyed reading a newspaper through and through the way he did. Upon retirement, he had plenty of time to do that, too.

Through the years, I have seen other retirees like my daddy thoroughly enjoy their golden years. They took up hobbies. They read some of those books they had never had time to read before. They visited some of the wonders of the world. They went on mission trips. They did volunteer work. They found a niche they could fill to help other people.

Retirees are blessed with the time to do what they want to do. I’m enjoying retirement, although not exactly like Daddy. Any time I find myself wrapped up in too many “have to dos,” I remind myself of his old saying and adjust my activities accordingly.