You know, lots of people complain about getting old and it’s true that getting old isn’t for sissies. Of course, as they say, getting old beats the hock out of the alternative. A really great one is retirement and good old reliable Social Security to finance the party.
No more getting up early, unless you want to do so. We were going to a job we don’t like, doing stuff we don’t like, with people we don’t like. Sure, some of us are blessed with jobs that are different, jobs we would do even if we weren’t paid to do them. My college roommate became a police officer after graduation and remained on the force in our hometown for over thirty-five years. He rose steadily through the ranks and was ultimately forced off the job because of hie age. He would have been a cop forever if it was up to him, and, I suspect, he would have done the job without pay if he could have taken care of his family some other way.
My Dad was a United States Marine and I knew for sure he didn’t want to quit. After three extensions beyond the mandatory retirement age he was forced to retire (they always want to make room at the top for deserving Marines so they are pretty adamant about mandatory retirement age). The Commandant of the United States Marine Corps attended his retirement ceremony and asked, with a smile, “Well, Sergeant Major, are you about ready to enjoy that retirement life?” My Dad said, loudly, “No, sir!”
These are, I’m pretty sure, rare examples. How else to explain the never-ending search for on-the-job injuries that result in early, paid retirement for a lot of people? Or the incessant complaining we so often hear at work about, well, everything? Or the late arrivals, early departures, and the use of every single personal leave and sick day – something like the “freebie” inclement weather days our schools take whenever it rains too hard, or the sun is too bright, the wind to strong, and so on until no further “freebies” are left.
There are those individuals, usually self-employed or self-directed who keep on keeping on, farmers and ranchers for example, who just seem to get into a groove and stay there until someone closes the box over them. But, for most of us, getting old and getting into the retirement lifestyle supported, thank you very much, by a reliable, never-ending, occasionally increasing Social Security check is a great place to be. And if we worked for a generous employer who offered a pension, and/or we put aside some dust in a retirement account, so much the better. But even if we didn’t (and we always meant to as seen as we got hold of a little “extra” money) we seem to adjust our expenses to our incomes especially now that much of our working-life nut has disappeared.
If we could just do something about the costs of medical care that plague us as we age, life would be even rosier. Yes, the same “creeping Socialism” that brought us Social Security and now gifts us with medicare takes care of a lot of those medical costs, but we do get charged something, sometimes a pretty big “something,” and those costs seem to be increasing all the time. Instead of arguing about who should help pay those medical costs, our old employers, or our present ones, the government, insurance companies, rich guys, and so on, why don’t we deal with these completely unregulated medical costs by asking the one real question: WHY DOES IT COST SO MUCH? If we dealt with that question, the problem would mostly settle itself.
But, I digress.
I’ve been thinking about another benefit of aging that we don’t think of all that often that Rosalie and I were discussing this morning as we traded stories of some of the things we did when we were very young and perhaps should not have done.
As time goes by, and the inevitable happens, fewer and fewer persons who remember some of those really bad things we did as youngsters are still around. Not the I am really happy about that, but along with the sadness of older folks we knew when we were kids passing away, is the knowledge that those stories of my youthful indiscretions will not longer be bandied about at family picnics or in the aisles at Wal-Mart and give my children a joyful moment or a comparison argument in the middle of a disciplinary discussion at a later date.
Now, if I can just get my brother and my cousins to shut up and stop telling my kids some of the things I did (or was accused of doing although proof was never, as I recall, produced), I would occupy a much firmer position during family conversations when I pontificate upon proper behavior.