Never Retire

By Debe Lange
By Debe Lange

You may or may not have retired just yet, but if you haven’t I know you’ve thought about it. We sometimes envision rising in the morning to do what we love doing most instead of having the responsibility of going to a job. That’s all fine and good, but there’s more to it than that.

Many years ago, I was told by a woman in her 80s, “Never retire.” She went on to explain that the only “retiring” she and her husband ever did was at the end of a long, busy day.

Later on, I overheard a young teenager talking to our son about his mother. He was complaining that she could never just sit still, and that whenever she sat down, she always had something in her hands to do. Whereas he viewed that as an annoyance, I saw that as commendable.

I took those things to heart and decided to include the principle of keeping busy in my own life. Time is precious and every minute that goes by is lost forever. So I made it my goal to always stay busy and to never sit down without having something in my hands to do.What I’ve learned is just how much time was wasted. Years ago I taught myself to crochet and worked on the newest project only while watching news in the evening or a football or baseball game on Sunday afternoons. I’ve been able to crochet a personal afghan for each of our seven children, one for nine of our grandchildren, and I’m working on one for the tenth.

Learning how to make the most of my time isn’t the only thing I’ve learned. As each of our children grew and left home to make their own way in the world, I found I was still useful. I had things to offer others, and now I also had the time I’d waited for to use that time wisely.

While I’m sitting in the clinic’s waiting room, I work on a crossword puzzle to keep my mind active. I fold laundry, dust, or wash windows while listening to the weather channel. Listening to background music soothes the soul and is terrific when making “growing up” photo albums to give our children, while baking cookies or cake to send them, or while driving to visit the elderly or go grocery shopping.

There are crafts to do, curtains to sew, furniture to paint, pillowcases to embroider, flowers to report, and so many other things to do I find I need forty hour days just to get them all done.

The greatest thing I’ve learned is that being useful is a choice, and it’s one that each of us makes every day. If we truly want to be useful and make the most of every moment, we will find what we enjoy doing and become better at it.

I see being over 50 as a time of discovery. Not only have I gained experience in the things I’ve always loved doing, but I’m now free to try new things and discover all of the other things I can also enjoy. Along with those years of aging and experience comes an ego that is now happy to take a backseat. I don’t need to be the best any longer. I only need to become better at whatever I’m doing than I was yesterday.

Debe Lange

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