As I sit here on the eve of Thanksgiving Day, I am going down the mental checklist of have I remembered everything? Knowing me, I really need to write that list down and check it more than twice just to make sure. It won’t do me a bit of good to start cooking tomorrow and be missing something. Be all that as it may, as I sat here, I was scrolling through the memories that showed up on my social media page. It is the anniversary of my retirement. My unexpected retirement.
For years, when ever someone would ask me when I planned on retiring I would make a comment along the lines of about thirty minutes before they bury me. After my husband died and I was still struggling to pay off what we owed, the comments remained the same. I wasn’t retiring any time soon. Maybe once I had things paid down to a more measurable level I could seek a less demanding job, but not until then. I had a love hate relationship with my job, but I also needed that job. I had bills to pay. The job was six minutes away from home, I had been there almost thirty years, I knew the job. It made it easier to take the difficult parts.
Then, the pandemic.
Working a textile manufacturing job was tenuous at times the search for customers an ongoing challenge. Then the pandemic came along. Everything took a major hit. And by March, I found myself without a job. The extra unemployment money held me over as I waited for a call back that never came. One that I finally realized would never come. I had a decision to make.
Over the weeks that I had been home, my parents came to depend on me heavily. Especially my mother. I was her go for, I was her chauffeur, I was her confidant. She grew very accustomed to my being here for her. There are days when my phone rings repeatedly, calls from her that I know I am blessed to be able to take. My parents have some age on them, I have nothing but gratitude for their presence in my life.
I had used the time home to get a lot of things done that had been neglected. My yard and storage building became this amazing place once again. One that was welcoming and could be enjoyed without concern of what else may be lurking about.
As time passed, the unemployment eligibility was extended a couple of times. The extra money was also. I knew though that wouldn’t last forever and that since I did not have taxes taken out, I was in for a big tax bill to come. I had to make a decision and make it soon.
I could seek out a new job, but then I would not be here for my parents. Other family members live near, but they have their own responsibilities. They wouldn’t be here all the time like I pretty much am. I could seek out a part time job, but would I be able to earn enough? I was going to have to check into the retirement possibility. That meant making one of those phone calls that I so hate to make.
After all was said and done, I did take early retirement. I will draw off of mine until I reach full retirement age and then switch over to my late husband’s social security. Which, if we still have social security by that time, will be much more than what I’m drawing now. I simply have to wait two and a half more years.
Its been a year since that decision was made. Its been a year since the ‘ain’t happening’ happened. While I have commented often that dealing with the set, limited income is difficult, I’m not hurting or doing without. I’m constantly learning how to do better and make do with what I have. We don’t eat fancy, we rarely eat out and when we do it is always my son’s treat. I no longer buy things on a whim. That do I need this, or do I just want this question always asked before I put anything in my cart. Most often, the items don’t make it off the shelf. But the money thing, or any other difficulties, are overshadowed by the gifts.
There has also been the feelings of guilt. I’m doing something that my late husband had been talking about. He had planned on taking early retirement. He was going to do this, that and what ever else came along. We would travel and see the places that I dreamed of seeing. Now he’s gone and I’m retired. I’m not traveling much, only when my son says, ‘let’s go’ but that’s okay.
I have time to do things. I have time to get outside, to hike, to do yard or garden work. I have time for family. I can answer those calls and respond. I am getting and enjoying the gift of time with my parents that many don’t have. This has taught me much and especially a greater patience and deeper love. There is a peaceful contentment in the not working. The stress levels are pretty well not existent and schedules are mine for the making. I feel that I didn’t lose a job, I was gifted the opportunity to be here for this and for my family. The Good Lord knows what is going on and what the future holds. Whether it is a part time job, a lottery win, finally getting myself to a position where I can publish another book or that nothing changes and I’m still doing what I’m doing. The difference, I’ve learned to be content, accepting what is and watching for what might be.