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The Rusty Years


Yesterday involved a visit to the doctor to get my left wrist checked, it's been hurting a lot and some of the fingers are tingly/numb. At times the pain goes all the way up my arm. No, not a sign of impending heart-attack,  got that cleared with my cardiologist on Monday.  It is what one would expect when they've spent anywhere from 5-10 hours a day on a keyboard for the last 30 years - carpal tunnel syndrome.  Lovely.  For the present time I have a brace and short dose of steroids to see if it will settle down again, it has before.  Will go back for re-evaluation in three weeks.  Does this keep me off the keyboard?  Well hell no, not at work, and definitely not for blogging!  Life goes on.

Then there is the issue of the chronic back pain, and the worn out knee, and... and... and so forth - the indignities of getting older.  John deals with more of it every year too, and we dread what shape we will be in at 70 or 80, should we live that long.  Golden years they're not... more like the rusty years!

Thirty some years ago, when my then-spouse and I moved to New Mexico, I took a job as a receptionist/clerk for an insurance agent.  He was a wonderful man in his late 50's.  A retired cop from New York City, with a heavy Irish accent.  His wife worked at the agency with him and they treated me like family. They had moved to the Southwest planning to eventually retire in the warm climate. They always talked about the places they were going to go and the things they were going to do when they retired.  Even after thirty some years, they were still deeply in love with each other. 

Then came a time when he needed cataract surgery, a simple enough procedure.  When he went in for the pre-operative workup, they did the usual chest x-ray... and found spots on his lungs.  Six months later this man who hadn't been sick hardly a day in his life, died of cancer.  It was a tragedy, and a shock to all of us. All their plans for spending the golden years together never came to be. 

I think about them often now, as we get older.  We are at the ages they were then.  We often fantasize about how wonderful it would be to retire, to not "punch the clock" anymore, to spend our days travelling, doing what we choose, and maybe some days doing nothing at all.  Life has been a little harder for both of us, and  we have no great amount of retirement funds saved up, so we will undoubtedly be working at least a few days each week in our senior years to have enough money to live on, but even having more than one or two days off sounds pretty wonderful at this point.  The truth is, we are both just tired of the daily grind.  We've done it for so long, and it isn't very exciting anymore. It sure would be nice if Social Security kicked in at 50 instead of 65. 

Not trying to be Debbie Downer or just plain morbid, but my biggest fear is that when the day finally comes to have more free time to spend together, will both of us be well enough to enjoy it, and even more importantly, will both of us still be here?  Scary thoughts folks, but that's just the way it is. 

The only thing we can do in life is to not let our fears get the best of us.  Take it one day at a time, cherish each moment spent together now, and make sure to stop and smell the roses along the way. It's far better to enjoy them now, than to wait for someday down the road and have folks sending them in your memory. 

I keep thinking there's gotta be another way to live, rather than just working our lives away to pay the bills and make ends meet... working five days to earn two days of freedom; but for the life of me, I can't figure out what that is... so back to work I go, lunchtime over.

16 comments:

  1. I'm not near your age but I hear ya man! What's the point of all this work if there is no play? I work hard...and it's killing my body! My knees have about had it, I come home with a stiff back and very tired legs. My kids must hate it because I never have any energy left to play with them.

    Work sucks, plain and simple!

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    1. Somedays it really is hard to keep your eye on the prize... a bit of freetime and sufficient income to enjoy it, Dan. I know the frustrations well! You are clearly intelligent, as your writing indicates, put that brain to work at a job that is less demanding physically. Your body will thank you when it reaches Papa Bear's age!

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  2. That's why it is so important to do the things you love, and find the simple joys...books, blogging, your new tablet, your cats, tome together. At the end of the day, you need to say you had to to this or that...but you got to do some fun stuff too. Balance.
    My health has been a lifelong struggle, but it has taught me to appreciate the things I can do & do them. I do.
    Hugs.

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    1. You are right Annie, sometimes the frustrations cloud my perspective. I am blessed to have all that I have, and we have small worries compared to many. I wish that I had a bit more free time to enjoy, but I believe that if I hang in there that day will come. I know I should be thankful that I don't have to work two jobs to make ends meet! I think you show amazing grace and courage to face each day with a positive outlook, it is a powerful reminder! :-)

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  3. Well, I’ll go along with Ann on this. You try to find the things that matter to you… the work that is most enjoyable, according to one’s abilities. And having good people around. To make the most of what we do have in life. It’s a shame to worry or plan too much for a future that is in the distance. These are the days that count.

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    1. I agree Shimon, we must try to make the best possible situation with what we have. If too much time and energy are spent hoping on the future, we lose today, and all that it could have been!

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  4. I say continue to dream for the future, but not at the expense of living fully today.

    That said, I'm a bit younger than you but I've been saying for years that I'd retire tomorrow if I could just find someone to pay me to do so!

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    1. You made me smile, Robin! I suppose we all long for less "must do" and more "want to do" in our lives. Trying to maintain a healthy balance requires some effort and planning. Sometimes I get down and tend to lete the day slip away having nothing fun to show for it, so then who is to blame for that but me?! :-)

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  5. G'Day Josie,
    Wow we are so alike. At the same stage of life, worrying about our future and we even have aches and pains in the same places. Hahaha. Oh dear I shouldn't laugh should I? I just have to put up and get on with my lot. Ouch I hate arthur-itis.
    I must confess when I do retire I won't know what to do with myself for a while, it will be a big adjustment.

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    1. Hi Linda! It's great to see you out and around! Yes, the ever growing list of aches and pains are worrisome. I value my freedom and independence so much! But you are right, all we can do is put one foot in front of the other and get on with it! I doubt I would have a bit of trouble with retirement, I love being home and have a million projects that I never get around to. I could be a happy hermit and never leave my house! :-)

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  6. It is important to work and plan for the future but not at the expense of today. After 45 years of working full time (and sometimes with a part time job, too)2 years ago I was able to cut back to just part time. It is wonderful.
    But truthfully, I probably do less now than I did when I worked 40-60 hours a week. It seems the more time I have for myself the more time I spend thinking about what I could be doing. Weird--maybe it is just me.
    Of course, the computer takes up a lot of my time. :`)

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    1. Or maybe it's just the luxury of being able to take things at a more leisurely pace! :-) When working, every hour of freetime has to count, or count as wasted. I do spend time playing on my puter, mostly in the blogsphere, but then housework doesn't get done. It's always hard to find the balance. If you're getting the basics covered, enjoy the freedom to relax and enjoy! I think most of us tend to drive ourselves too hard, feeling it is wrong to sometimes just be.

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  7. When Joe and I both worked at the fire department, we were always shocked when those ahead of us would retire, then, six months later, they'd be struck down with mortality. You know of our failing health. Joe NEVER had health problems and now..... Then I realized WE were now the 'ones retired'. Still, it's a shock when the "those people" become "us" and we realize others younger are watching "us" with that damn knowledge of youth: "wow. THEY went downhill, didn't they?"

    So, instead of enjoying the golden years, we are becoming more complacent with the little things. It's a shock, and also, SAD*SAD*SAD.

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    1. You are so right, as always, Lotta Joy. It is a shock to find yourself in the role of those you once observed. Now I look at elders hobbling along out in public and realize that in not to many more years it could easily be me... and that's scary. Independence is everything to me! I agree too, that we often have to settle for small pleasures, when we might have dreamed of bigger adventure, but life is what it is, and we do have love... that's a BIG THING! :-)

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  8. My mum who is 63 years young and my step-dad who is 73, always thought that after years of hard slogging, they would finally be able to retire and travel around Europe. But ill health set in for them both and now my mum is wondering what all those years of struggling was for.

    Now the government has brought in a law which pushes the retirement age to 67, so that all those plans that the more elderly couples had made,now all seems to have gone up in smoke.

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    1. I know this scenario too well, Lily. At the time my father retired and so longed to do more travelling, my mother was no longer physically able to do so. The retirement age is rising here too. My biggest fear is that both of us should never reach it to share. SIGH But that IS why it's so important to take time and make memories know as best we can, waiting could mean the day never comes.

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Your comments are always appreciated... they make me smile! :-)