I equated retirement with: waking up without purpose, walks without direction, lunch breaks uninterrupted, and a nest chirpless, cheerless.
Left out in that catalogue of fears were more blatant ones. Of a body gone to pot. Of parts in need of overhaul or replacement. Of BP, sugar, cholesterol levels shooting up and energy and mental faculties slowing down.
My sister, a lawyer, died 10 months after she retired. Technically, it was a conspiracy of diabetes, asthma, hypertension and depression that did her in. But virtually, she stopped the clock herself with her own obstinate refusal to live empty days with husband gone, work done, and children flown from the coop.
I had cause to be paranoid, hadn’t I?
Lately, I am surprised I have lost some of these fears. How?
Flippantly I tell people it must be this blogging thingie. When one has two or three sites to manage and 30 to 40 people in one’s blogging community to visit twice a week – on top of 8-5 work and demanding family and social life – how can one find time to brood?
Half-seriously, it could be blogging with its requisite introspection that has put me in touch with higher wisdom. It tells me that without worrying I would have arrived exactly where I am now -- and more pleasantly.
Half-seriously, too, it could be blogging -- and its requisite raising of external awareness -- that has made me watch out for seniors who seemed to have found the secret to growing old, productive, and happy.
There is evidence to show creative juices need not dry up with age.
Who hasn’t heard of Anne Mary Robertson, aka Grandma Moses, who taught herself to paint at 70 plus? She lived to be 100 and for 30 years the toast of American folk art! Martha Graham danced well into her 70s and continued to choreograph 20 years more. Giuseppe Verdi wrote his last opus eight months shy of his 80th birthday.
We have local, if more modest, counterparts around:
M, scion of a restaurant chain-owning family, took an MA in literature at age 60. She now teaches English lit – the true passion she earlier pushed aside to meet family expectations to help with business. Nanay Curing, at 80 plus, still tends her own small grocery store in BF Paranaque. She is incidentally, the mom of Senator Manny Villar. R, a blogger-buddy you might know, enrolled in Law school at 50 something, after teaching high school for 20 years. Soon, she would be the attorney she has always dreamt to be.