I write too much about being retired, perhaps, but since that's what we are...well, it comes naturally. I wrote this one a few years back, about the shock of it all when it first happens. I'm still in my office at the desk in the picture--new computer, though. The seven quilts I promised to make have been completed. A few books and a lot of these slice-of-life essays. He has new knees and new guitars. We've had grief and loss in these years, occasional discontent, times of being alone even when we are together. We've also had a blessed amount of fun. Of music and laughter and family. Of the other side of being alone that comes of knowing we never really are.
Duane and I had been married nearly 40 years when we retired, sharing space with all the attendant noise, mess, and drama that comes with having three kids, a house, and two jobs. By the time we started collecting our pensions, of course, the kids were grown and all the noise, mess, and drama were our own. We looked forward to all the time we were going to have to pursue our own interests and also ones we shared. He wanted to play golf and music. I wanted to travel and eat meals I hadn’t chosen, shopped for, and cooked.
Whenever anyone talks about retirement, there’s always a “however.” Have you ever noticed that?
Sharing a house during evenings and weekends was a piece of cake. We’d always done that well. Okay, maybe not always, but most of the time. Then suddenly, we were sharing it 24/7.
What were we thinking? I mean, really.
I still got up at 4:00 AM. He slept until 8:00. I’d probably turned on the television three times in our married life—he didn’t realize it had an off switch. I wanted to travel…oh, maybe once a month, to a different place every time. He wanted to travel once a year to Florida. He didn’t care what he ate or when as long as there were pastries involved.
One of the interests I wanted to pursue was quilting. I’d promised the grandkids—all seven of them—I would make each of them a bed-size quilt when I retired. Not that I even knew how to make one, mind you, but that’s a whole different story. However—there’s that word again—quilting has quite a volume of mess involved with it (at least when I’m the one doing it), and no small amount of drama when it came to me learning how to cut things out. Especially triangles.
He still wanted to play golf, but his knees were wearing out, so it wasn’t much fun. He still played music, but having me there all the time he was doing it bothered him.
It appeared we just might spend our happy golden years driving each other crazy. It was a learning time. With a steep curve. Oh, way steep.
But then my husband, with help from our boys, built an office/sewing room in the garage. It is the best of things, what Virginia Woolf wrote about in A Room of One’s Own, an essay which I must own to never having read, but one that embraces the theory that "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." If Ms. Woolf had been a quilter, she’d have expanded that list of Must Haves a bit.
Sometimes I feel guilty because I spend so much time out here, but most of the time I’m just thrilled to have it. We are still together 24/7 (although the busyness of retirement makes that a gross exaggeration), but in addition to being a unit—the parental one, the grandparental one, the other halves of each other—we are also freely, happily ourselves. Virginia Woolf had it right.
Till next time. Have a great week.