Mason County residents are blessed with long lives. During those lives, which are very blessed with adventures and activities that make those lives full and happy, the folks are able to amass a lifetime of memories.
Those same people have worked at their jobs for a lifetime. They have saved and scrimped and invested and squirreled away money, all so that in those later years, they would have enough income to enjoy their golden years in a manner to which they've become accustomed. But, when you live to be 80, 90 and more, you've often far outlived the retirement plans of most normal folks!
So, what you see are people working till their final days. They may work only part time; but, they continue to serve at the grocery store, working at the convenience stores, answering the phones at offices,,,, doing whatever they can just to bring in a bit more income to supplement their retirement and their Social Security.
I often joke that my retirement plan is to work until the hearse comes to take me away. I'll be the first to admit that I have not always planned effectively for my future, and, while nothing to be proud about, I think that I probably stand with many others in that group who wonder how our later years will be financed. We try to make sure that, as we get older, we rack up fewer long term debts and make sure that the things that we own, we no longer have to make payments on to someone else.
I know that's not nearly enough.
In talking to folks at church, in my office, or just around town, I've come to realize that the expenses of "retirement" are not inconsequential. There are the usual things: groceries, utilities, car repair and maintenance, household repair and maintenance. Then, there are the "retirement" expenses that you've been planning on having for many years. Those are the trips you plan on taking, vacations to exotic locales, dining at nice restaurants and staying in good hotels. Those items continue to increase in cost and are far higher now than when we were planning our retirement. All too many retirees find that the first few years out of the workforce may have a few more trips and other special treats; but, few can really afford to keep up that pace of retirement for a very long time.
And then there are the medical costs!
Living long lives means that we are more likely to have more health concerns. Blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, vision problems, dietary concerns,,, every week, it seems that something on your body doesn't work quite as well as it did the week before - or doesn't work quite the same way it did when we were younger. And fixing or managing those problems? It's VERY expensive. Insurance is expensive. Doctors are expensive. Traveling to the doctor visits is expensive. And, inevitably, there will be prescriptions, and those (even with drug plans and co-pay options) are extremely expensive.
Yet, the folks who live long lives have found an incredible reason for enjoying their longevity rather than complaining about all the problems. They get to watch their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great-grandchildren and others grow up and enjoy their lives. They get to mentor and tutor and guide the young as they travel through their lives. They get to spend time with their church families helping to build a new generation that will attempt to right all the wrongs and fix all the broken things that we were unable to do during our time on the journey.
And, perhaps most satisfying of all, those of us who continue on our trip through life have the opportunity to help say goodbye to all those who precede us. We are able to honor them with our prayers and our remembrances. We will share our memories of their lives and tell the stories we have of them with those that they leave behind.
We will shed tears. We will laugh at things that we remember. And we will offer a hand to those still making our way.
So plan on living a long, abundant and happy life. And, make sure everyone that follows you know you were there to lead their way.
It’s all just my opinion.