Grace Kimball, the main character in the mystery I’m writing, is having a few problems with “retirement issues.” I thought this might be an age-worthy conflict for her because she just retired, and I have a group of friends who have asked questions about these issues over recent years. When should I retire? What should I do once retired? How do I define my non-working life? Are there advantages to being retired? It’s not an easy time. And literally millions of baby boomers like me are retiring every day.
I’m still working on the answers to those questions for myself, but I believe I have recently discovered one of those retirement advantages. It crossed my mind when a former student who lives in Phoenix explained her philosophy of life. She likes to “live in the moment.” It seems to work for her because she is always very upbeat and positive and enjoys her life thoroughly. Of course she is much younger than I am and not close to retirement. But she seems to have grasped an essential of life that escaped me in my younger years.
Looking back at my own life as well as those of my friends, I can’t help but wonder how we were supposed to do that. I always had children to feed, laundry to do, papers to grade, school concerts to attend, golf tournaments for the boys, cheerleading for the girl, cupcakes for school birthday parties, and the list goes on and on. Years went by fleetingly and disappeared as quickly as they began. Right now the 70’s and 80’s are a total blur. When exactly was I supposed to live in the moment?
Now that I’m retired I wish I could have more closely examined those moments. Perhaps it is never too late to learn. So I’ve been doing that—savoring the moments. It appears to be working.
Currently one of the children of friends back home in Illinois is visiting Phoenix with his wife. Over thirty-five quickly passing years I watched this visiting young man grow up next door, play baseball with my children in the backyard, and go off to college and an adult life of his own. Our families were “back door neighbors” in a small town, and we shared a great many joys and sorrows. One Christmas I sat across the table from this grown up child—with both our families present—and heard about all the things he and my older son did that I didn’t know about when they were in high school. (I am told there is a statute of limitations on the escapades of those teenage years.)
So this evening we’re planning to go to Bell’ Italia Pizzeria, a very special place in south Phoenix. Mario and Paola Caputo opened this amazing restaurant featuring Italian cuisine and wine, and their sons are part of the family endeavor. I’ve taken five different groups of visiting friends from back home to this special place and the restaurant should be paying me a finder’s fee. (I must remember to discuss that with Mario soon).
Now that I’m retired I can enjoy the wine and fine Italian cuisine tonight, laugh at the memories reinterpreted, and glance at each of the faces across the table, committing them to memory. It’s time to practice this “living in the moment.”