The August issue of U.S. Catholic has three excellent articles on living in retirement. The first, You Can’t Take It with You, by Laura Fletcher, deals with some of the practicalities that become important as we get older. We need to make plans for someone to stand in for us in making financial and health care decisions when we can’t make them for ourselves. Wills, trusts and health care and financial powers of attorney are some of the legal documents that should be taken care of before there is a crisis. These are areas that many people don’t want to face, but doing so early can go a long way toward making the later years easier on both the senior and their family. For married couples, having these issues taken care of can make years of caring for an incapacitated spouse easier and can help assure the financial health of the remaining spouse when one of you dies. We also found that the process of discussion and making the decisions together helped us to get to know each other better as we shared our wishes in these very personal areas.
The second article, The Good Life, by Kristen Hannum, raises issues about how to find joy and meaning in one’s life when the self-worth and social aspects of full-time employment go away. It has many good suggestions about ways people have found to keep life interesting. Most people need activities and social contacts to keep them happy and fulfilled. Each person needs to find a mix of personal time, time with others and activities that give them a sense of personal fulfillment. That is different for different people. Some are happy to focus on their family, spending time with children and perhaps caring for grandchildren. Some people volunteer for good causes, maybe causes that utilize the expertise developed during working years, perhaps working part time.
A man we met in Ireland was married and recently retired. He said that one of the important things a retired couple needs to do is “stay out of each other’s pocket.” On a trip to Puerto Rico, we interviewed several couples who were around our age and who seemed to enjoy being together. We asked them what made their marriage work in retirement. All of them told us that they enjoyed spending time and doing activities together, but that it was very important that each had some activities and commitments of their own. They each continued to have an individual identity. We have also found this to be important for us. We work together on this blog, but each have blogs for projects that we do primarily on our own (livingtogetherintheword.com and divergenthaiti.com) as well as going out with individual friends. That allows us to each pursue personal interests and friendships which helps to keep our own conversations more interesting.
The third article, Embracing Life’s Second Act, is an interview of Sister Joan Chittister, O.S.B. by the Editors. Sister Joan has a marvelous approach to retirement and aging from a spiritual perspective. She encourages each of us to see the value of the experiences of our lives and to become the source of wisdom for our grandchildren and the next generation. Her book, The Gift of Years, has been an inspiration for us. We highly recommend it.
Note: U.S. Catholic is available by subscription only, but the current (and prior) issue(s) are available on their web site: uscatholic.org. Most of the articles are readable there. On the header bar, click on Magazine. The August issue is not yet available, but should be by Friday or early next week.
Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:
Bob & Rita’s book: Forever and Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us. Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time. Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.
Check out Bob’s Divergent Haiti seminar here.