Am I Ready?

Retirement is just 17 days away now.

We have been planning for this moment for a long time. There are other perspectives about the retirement years and it does not look like it’s all Walt Disney World.

Some of them make for fun reading.

Chuck Underwood, founder of consulting firm The Generational Imperative in Ohio, said what’s not to like: “Most retirees badly underestimate the severity of the impact of awakening each day without a major purpose. Retirees who feel grandparenthood, volunteerism, travel, and just ‘relaxing’ will fill the purpose void consistently learn this hard lesson: for decades, their jobs have guided their entire lives, claimed the most vital eight hours of their weekdays, and been the source of most of their thinking. For decades.”

So what happens when the purpose provided by work is gone. Said Underwood, “The thought that fills the void is, ‘My life has lost its greatest purpose, I am aging, and I’m on final descent toward death.'”

Some retirees plummet into depression. Many develop opioid habits. Others drink too much booze. That’s not what any of them had in mind as they contemplated an end of work. But those grim realities are indeed all too real for many.

Yikes.

And this.

It’s one thing to be financially prepared for retirement, but don’t discount the mental upheaval that might ensue once you leave your career behind you. Though many seniors look forward to the downtime they’ve been missing during their working years, you may come to find that your newly unstructured existence throws you for an emotional loop. In fact, according to the Institute of Economic Affairs, retirees are 40% more likely to suffer from clinical depression than younger Americans are, and a big reason has to do with that loss of purpose, so to speak, in life.

And this.

Retirement is a huge lifestyle change. For many of us, work is a big part of our lives and identity. It is important to think through how you will spend your free time and what your aspirations are. I suspect many people postpone retirement because they have not taken the time to think through this important transition in their lives. As such, they continue to work as it is what they are comfortable with and all that they have ever known.

It goes on of course. If you follow this line of reasoning, you would never retire. Too scary.

I have a sense that governments, anxious to keep people paying higher levels of taxes as long as possible, attempt to create a narrative that, in effect, says that it is better for people to work longer, much longer, than the traditional retirement age of 65.

This despite the Statscan data showing very little movement in public sector retirements. The average age has remained at just over 61 for the past five years for public sector employees whereas private sector employees tend to retire on average closer to 64.

For the record, I will be 61.8 years old at retirement. I’m able to retire a bit earlier than the average private sector employee thanks to defined benefit pensions and a decent investment portfolio.

I have thought about the social, emotional, physical and financial aspects of retirement. Being a goal-oriented person, I have certainly put a lot of thought and effort into each one of these areas throughout my life.

I’m looking forward to a wonderful stage of life in retirement with Lorraine.

The starting gate is just around the corner.

Not Enough Data

And here I thought I was a heavy user of my smartphone.

GBGH, Matthew.

Grandchild Number Three

20170103_thomas_107

A wonderful addition to our family arrived last week, our third grandchild.

And The Band Played On

My mother-in-law passed away a few weeks ago. A wonderful person whom I will really miss.

Her memorial service is this coming Saturday. We have been asked to play at the reception that follows the service. When I say “we”, the band is a trio: myself and my two sons.

Somewhat challenging to build a setlist for such an event, particularly when my sound is very much on the contemporary side of things. No vocals so the covers will all be instrumental pieces. My part will be covering the melody lines with a bit of improvisation here and there.

This is what we are going with:

  • It Is Well
  • Be Thou My Vision
  • Amazing Grace
  • Before The Throne Of God Above
  • What Child Is This
  • Christ The Lord Is Risen Today
  • Holy, Holy, Holy
  • Crown Him
  • Great Is Thy Faithfulness
  • Come Thou Fount
  • Great Are You Lord

Yes. They are all hymns. However, we are playing contemporary arrangements and supplementing our little trio with percussion, strings, keys courtesy of MultiTracks.

The video below shows our setup for the date.

On His Way

OnHisWay

It’s official. Our last child is on his way.

Matthew heads off to University tomorrow morning. I am both happy and sad.

Happy because of the joy that he brought into our home and into our lives.

Sad because I will miss him like crazy.

This was tough when my daughter left home. And it was just as tough when my oldest son left home. They were both boomerang kids, they returned home after their University years as they made their transition to becoming fully independent adults. It was nice to have them back home again for a few years.

I’ve told Matthew that there won’t be the same opportunity for him to boomerang. We will be retired when he finishes his degree and we will be travelling.

He will always be welcome to stay with us of course. There will always be a place for him in our travels. But my sense is that he is very keen to find his own way in life.

An amazing young man with so much promise.

His leaving home is a major milestone in life.

This part of being a parent is not easy.

Auto Correct Fail

From a recent chat with Lorraine:

On Thu, Sep 1, 2016 at 12:21 PM, Lorraine Cleaver wrote:

Ok. So do we just use this one with the back backer or do we use the old bracket off the old projector

On Thu, Sep 1, 2016, at 12:23 PM, Richard Cleaver wrote:

Hmmm… what is a back backer?

On Thu, Sep 1, 2016 at 12:25 PM, Lorraine Cleaver wrote:

Hahaha
Black bracket

On Thu, Sep 1, 2016, at 12:26 PM, Richard Cleaver wrote:

Wee wound kneed the hold bracelets oaf the owl protector. The back backers art fined.

Cruising

Jamming

We’ve enjoyed a pre-cruise day at the Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World yesterday. And we are getting ready to make the trip to Port Canaveral this morning. We board our ship later this afternoon and we will enjoy a week or so sailing the Western Caribbean.

The weather is sunny and warm. Just the way we like it.

Limited Internet access on the ship but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Life unplugged has its dividends.

The Box

TheBox

You have to talk to me Murph. I need to fix this before I go. After you kids came along, your mom, she said something to me I never quite understood. She said, ‘Now we’re just here to be memories for our kids.’ I think I now understand what she meant. Once you’re a parent, you’re the ghost of your children’s future.

That line from Interstellar came to me when I opened the box.

I had forgotten about it. The box that is.

The post office had left a ticket in our mailbox to let me know that I had a parcel.

Once we picked it up, it had my sister’s return address. And then I remembered.

My sister had mentioned it to me in an email a few weeks back. She had recently sold her home and, as part of cleaning things up, she placed a number of items into a box. And she sent the box to me.

She had put it this way:

Also wanted to give a heads up. As I was going through the rather arduous task of sorting the family photos, I found several that I thought might be of interest to you from when we were children. There were also many other items that Mum had kept through the years.

I just couldn’t bring myself to make decisions on what you may or may not want so I put together a small box (truly, think small shirt box as opposed to banker’s file box!) and have sent it out to you. I don’t want to cause you any heartache by doing this.

It was definitely the right thing for her to do.

It definitely caused a lot of heartache.

Going through the contents of the box was very difficult. My mother had kept so many memories over the years. An envelope containing hair from my first haircut. My first baby shoe. Mother’s Day cards that I had sent to her over the years. Valentine cards from my two oldest children — she had never seen my third child. My father’s discharge from the first World War. My father’s death certificate. Numerous photographs, many of them cracked and faded.

I’m still not over the loss of both my parents. And I suppose it is natural to have an emotional reaction to the flood of memories that came rushing in after I opened this box.

Difficult memories.

I found myself caught between two worlds, the material and the immaterial. A physical connection to a person that no longer lives in this world. Memories of a mother now gone yet not forgotten.

And I wondered about a different box. My own box. A box that one day might find its way to my own children.

What will they remember when they open that box?