Road Trip to ‘Official’ Retirement

Journey to being completely retired can be fun, fulfilling

By John Addyman

My friend Jay called from Pennsylvania to tell me what his plans are for the summer. He and I went to high school together, went to the same junior college, and got married on the same day a long, long time ago.

Jay was a teacher and still finds time to do some substituting, but generally, he is completely and totally retired.

For years after leaving teaching, he enjoyed a second career as the supervisor on a loading dock for a shipping firm. Then he completely and totally retired.

Then he ran for borough council and served for many years, took over the tree commission, ran a summer festival, instituted a senior shopping service, hosted family reunions and helped organize a charity golfing tournament. Then he completely and totally retired.

Now he’s got time on his hands, and he’s decided to travel. He’s a big guy (6-foot-7), and he does all of his traveling in a pickup truck. This summer’s trip is to make northern passage around the Great Lakes. He’ll start here, at our house in Newark.

I’ve traveled with Jay. We drove out to Ohio to see another guy we graduated high school with, Skip. The truck wasn’t available that day, so we ended up taking my SUV.

Jay was going to do half the driving. He didn’t, especially on our way back to Pennsylvania, when I drove for six hours straight through a line of thunderstorms. Jay slept. He’s good at that.

He’s trying to talk me into making a western swing with him, where we cover about 20 states. I can’t do it, and I can’t figure out how he’s going to do all that sightseeing while he’s sleeping.

I finished my fifth career, as a corporate recruiter, and I completely and totally retired. Then I did Meals on Wheels and I was an ombudsmen and I drove people to their medical appointments and volunteered at our church and read a lot and did things around the house.

Then I went to nursing school where I was the oldest student by 20-some years, and took college classes at Finger Lakes Community College before that to be comfortable in nursing school. At FLCC, I was the oldest student in the room by 30-some years. And I became an LPN. But I found out, after a year, that I was a bit too slow. So I completely and totally retired.

Then I got involved in Laurel House comfort care home in Newark, and in hospice care, and I started writing stories for local newspapers, something I’ve done most of my life as a “second” job. In fact, I started writing more and more stories, and even began working for magazines.

Roll the presses!

Then I bought a small local newspaper, the “Sun & Record/Wayne County Mail” in Williamson. And in just two months, I found myself working seven days a week, and some of those days were 12 to 15 hours long.

My wife has been just thrilled about this latest venture.

Light bulbs that need to be replaced may be dark for several days or weeks.

Smoke alarm batteries lay on the counter waiting to be inserted in the smoke alarms right above them.

My car, which is almost never dirty, is now almost never clean.

It takes me three weeks to set aside enough time for a haircut.

Rather than dressing for style, I dress for warmth and comfort. And shopping? If there were no internet, birthdays and Christmas, and loving children and grandchildren, I’d have no clothes.

I love painting rooms and the outside of the house, but haven’t touched a paintbrush in more than a year.

So, how miserable can I be?

Frankly, I’m not miserable at all — too busy, yes, but not miserable. I love doing what I’m doing, including writing this column.

They say that when we get to be a certain age, we need three things to help us stay young — activity, learning (or challenge), and social contacts. I’ve got all three up to my eyeballs.

But I have something else. I have the opportunity to share. I know what I write is read — I certainly hear from enough people. And I know that I’m not alone in what I do with my life, in the choices I make.

If I write a story about something really stupid I’ve done, I know some of you will read that and say, “I’ve done something just like that.”

My friend Jay is an amiable guy who can make friends with anybody. In his travels through the Great Lakes, he will do just that. He’ll learn, he’ll be active, and he’ll meet people who will like him almost instantly.

And when I really do retire completely and totally for the last time, I’ll take Jay up on his offer to join him in seeing the United States. That is unless Jay and I start some kind of business together. Maybe we’ll do bus tours of America.

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