When Work Day Ends

I watched as my friend made his way down the street to our appointed meeting place for lunch. He uses a cane now, something I had not noticed in the past. He is, I’m reminded, well past retirement age. We greet one another and take a table near the window where a warm and rare February sun is shining through nicely.

The simple meal of soup and sandwiches were slowly consumed amid conversation. Talk between two chums was more on the menu than food. The real nourishment of this meeting was meant for the soul. We talked about loss and grief, something we shared most recently. He gave me the encouragement I needed and a few copies of helpful readings meant to ease one’s heart and mind. We spoke of family matters and the state of our world. We agreed the madness needs to stop in schools where shootings are too commonplace. We nodded in the affirmative that having good role models truly matters to growing youngsters.

It was all pretty heady stuff that slipped away with the afternoon sun because we could share it with one another.

I inquired how he was enjoying retirement – although a man of his position never truly retires from his work. It has its good points and bad points, too, he says. A lifetime of serving others doesn’t end with that first Social Security check. It’s a passion, a way of life, not just a job. I know that because I’ve seen him visiting the sick and elderly and ministering to others in his “retirement.” You can teach an old dog new tricks – but he just might like the old ones better.

When our lunch date was over, he went his way and I went to the office to start my shift. He gave me plenty to think about concerning the roles we play in life, whether it’s behind a desk, in an operating room or standing in a pulpit on Sunday mornings. Each of us has to find our place, our niche, and that’s not easy at any stage of life.

I do know that routine is a good thing for most of us and that’s why it’s so hard to one day have it all end. Routine gives a person a sense of being grounded. It gives purpose to putting our feet on the floor and getting out of bed each day.

While at times I envy the Silver Sneakers generation, I know they, too, have to find new purpose in later years. The children are grown and gone. The career has ended and colleagues move out of the picture. Power lunches are replaced with an occasional lunch date with a former colleague. Friends drift to warmer climates or move closer to children and grandchildren.

So what’s the next step to enjoying your golden years? Maybe it’s working longer. Perhaps it’s turning your attention to that bucket list of small and large items. Sometimes it’s making time for others, such as volunteering at a soup kitchen or hospital, that can fill the void left from empty non-working hours.

To quote the unknown 90-year-old author of these words, “Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.” Enjoy your day.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.