Dr. Val Farmer
Rural Mental Health & Family Relationships

Readers Reflect On Retirement

March 5, 2007

Cherish the togetherness opportunity.

For a wife, a husband’s retirement means half as much income and twice as much husband. Seriously, DO cherish the togetherness opportunity.

Retirement is mere nothing compared to the shock of sudden widowhood. My two sons and I decided to out source parental care by my moving to a retirement center 224 miles from the farm and nearest son. I share a place adjacent to a good campus. Good choice: audit courses, hear concerts, attend lectures, etc.

The next generation should be free to do their work and live their lives without having to attend to my needs as they would if I had stayed alone in my comfortable small farmhouse where I could life virtually for free. So money-wise it was a mistake. However, numerous secondary contacts do not replace one truly caring companion as you correctly pointed out. I know.

Thanks for a great column. Don’t quit doing the world some good. - A widowed and retired farmer.

Slowing down, enjoying life and doing a better job.

Many friends and peers suggested that I retire early (65 instead of 70). I took their advice and I am NOT sorry. When I read your article, the words - "rushed", "all seemed like major events", "most of my wardrobe", "TV news is grim" sprang out to me like, "Oh yeah, that’s how I feel."

THANK YOU, THANK YOU for having a heart to feel the heart-beat of the farming sector of America! Over the past 17 years of living the farm life, have I wanted to respond to so many articles, only to think, I need more time to adjust and really live the life!

My short time in retirement has been interesting to say the least. I have panic moments like I need to hurry to get something done, when I realize I have all day and so a lot of self talking takes me through the paces of slowing down, enjoying this time and doing a better job of whatever I am doing!!!

I even baked cookies for my dear husband one day. Something that is rare! I have begun a routine of exercising and am more consistent NOW! I have visited several friends who have been sickly and just enjoyed the time to think. I have belonged to book reading clubs and now am really relishing reading than cramming for the meeting.

Friends have warned me not to get too involved in volunteer work. I already am president of the Federated Women’s Club locally. I am attending bible study at church more regularly and can stay longer afterward instead of rushing off to work.

Oh yes, I worked as a nurse on the night shift for those 20 years and that is an article in itself. Sleep deprivation has taken a toll on my marriage, on work, on day light, on weight control, you name it, it has not been the best. BUT NOW, that is all behind. - A recent retiree from Iowa.

Retirement is allowing time to appreciate so many things.

What is retirement? When grandparents were forced to "slow down" due to age, health and a desire to allow one of the family to dovetail into the operation, they slowly dovetailed "out". The many experiences they’d learned were of value to the next generation as they began their reign on the acres.

The word "retirement" was not mentioned. The word "tired" was, not as a coveted finality with a monthly government check. Being "tired" was a gradual thing that the years and circumstances brought about.

Today, retirement is so pronounced. It’s put before the universe, like the proverbial carrot being dangled in front of the furry rabbit. It was different when folks could raise a family and pay for 80-120 acres of land.

What I see now is the zeros of money put out for machinery, taxes, interest, repairs, and the headaches of battling the weather on hundreds of rented acres or purchased at ungodly prices, of bugs, markets, drought, floods, winds, pest diseases in crops, plus the cost of spray and sprayers, all for the grasp of more control. Men and women work two jobs, have little time for children or relaxation, and are worn out, sick or ailing and longing for the "golden age" of retirement.

It is not that way 85 percent of the time. Doesn’t anyone save some resources through the years to help when they are old? If they have, too many have poor health to enjoy it.

I have no solution for all of this. ...It is my feeling that if we’d be satisfied with less and take more time to live and let live, at the end of the chase, we’d die naturally, not fed on medicine, and machines, or sit like zombies in rest homes. We don’t need the highest commodities, the richest food and entertainment the world offers to be happy.

Retirement to me is allowing time to appreciate God’s beauty and his people, time to invest in friendships and love for our children and friends - not chasing the carrot. The Lord in our life is the whole answer.

- From an 80 year old widow and former farm wife who describes herself as "full of a lot of what was, not knowing what is and certainly not knowing how all this will end up."