Sunday, May 9, 2010

"Keep on keeping on"

Well, I guess it's official. I'm formally retired, the silver pen and pencil set has arrived from the university along with a certificate of appreciation. Kinda cheesy, but OK. It's kind of an odd retirement since I will return in the fall to teach part-time. With this quasi-forced arrangement, I gain lots of personal time, but lose my health insurance. There's no way I can continue to pay for it, and I don't qualify for Medicare for two more years.

Somehow this isn't how I envisioned retirement. First of all, I never expected to retire at all since I returned to the workforce so late in life. And secondly, "retirement" really means I slip back into pre-master's degree poverty, holding my heart in my mouth every time a bill arrives in the mail or I feel a twinge of pain. But I'm not surprised; I knew the bottom would fall out of things once I reached this age. I'm a baby-boomer of course, that generation that gets blamed for all the country's ills of the moment due to no fault of our own.

There are too many of us, babies born in celebration of the end of a devastating world war. Our numbers are sucking Social Security dry, and young people resent having to pay for our menial survival. However, few care to mention that we paid into the system too for this past half century and might deserve some of the benefits as well.

World cruises, sailboats, travel to exotic places, time on the beach won't be what my retirement is all about. I'll be lucky if I can maintain a roof over my head. These unexpected circumstances will certainly force me to keep busy, "busy" apparently being a respected American value since if you ask nearly anyone how they are, their response is "busy."

In the wake of my concern, my oldest daughter said, "You've always been very resourceful," and I guess she's right. I have been, and I'm quite proud of having fed and cared for my kids seeing them safely into adulthood. I'm proud of returning to the university later in live to complete my degrees, and I've enjoyed my years working as a newspaper reporter and college English instructor. I've worked hard and made use of the many disparate things I've learned along the way from farming/gardening/butchering chickens, to running a literary magazine, to writing/reporting, teaching, spinning wool, weaving, playing piano. Some activities that many would dismiss as mere hobbies, have turned into somewhat lucrative projects.

Generally, I enjoy my life. My children are close at hand. My grandsons are wonderful people

So, I guess I'll take songwriter Bob Dylan's words to heart and "keep on keeping on."

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