I’m not burdened with age, but lately I’m thinking it’s time to summarise and reflect on what I’ve done with my life. It seems like it’s time to decide whether everything is coming to an end or if it’s all a new beginning. I’m facing retirement after 40 years and finding an attitude to go with this huge event in my life. What is my attitude towards retirement?
Memories are flowing in. They resemble an old pearl necklace, few bobs missing, some of them not as shiny as years ago, but the necklace is still here. The experiences, memories, life are all still here. I wanted to do so much, but I didn’t do it all. Sometimes there was not enough time. Sometimes I just didn’t feel like it.
Thinking back, a lot of it was work. People must work, it’s this grand portion of our lives. So, I did, I worked for 40 years. Sometimes I resembled this programmed machine.
Getting up before everyone, interrupting children’s sleep so we can catch up the daily schedule, get them to school, manage unplanned events, anyone getting ill, all the fevers. Life blessed us to have our own parents to rely on during that time. I do appreciate not everyone has that in their life.
Choosing a positive view on my memories determines the attitude towards retirement
40 years of work. That is 40 years of being in a 4 walls room, with artificial light over my head. That many years of coming home exhausted, picking your leftover strengths to play with your children, to have meaningful conversations. I wonder, how much have I missed out on? I shiver thinking about anything I missed noticing when they were growing up. For me the priority was that there were healthy, clean, that they are well. But perhaps what they needed was hugs, smiles, kisses when I didn’t offer one. I beat myself up, did they have enough love?
Then I remembered, it was winter. We were all under one tree, I pulled the branch on purpose, snow covered us all. Oh, the giggles, endless laughter. Oh, who was that sliding on the sled? Not just the kids. It’s my husband and me, stealing their turn, they protest and laugh as we slide down like pros. It’s summer again, we’re walking to my in-laws in the village. Perfect day, kids are so happy, the grass is tall and it’s all just perfect. My daughter’s adult voice comes to head, she told me this recently. She used to love the evenings in the summer when we’d all go out for a cuppa, whole neighbourhood, while kids play. She said she used to love it knowing we are there, outside enjoying, while she plays. Now look at this, my silly brain started playing back all the hugs and kisses, all of it, bombarding me. Yes, there were plenty and there are plenty now. The best bit is most of them coming from my grandchildren now.
Being grateful is the right attitude
I get it. Where I am now in life, I probably miss my children’s childhoods. Wishing those gentle hugs, wishing to turn back the time. Soon, I’ll have time for everything I ever wanted, as I’m retiring. Will I know how to use that time wisely? No more morning rush, the day should flow smoothly. It will be unusual. I will miss people from work, the atmosphere, the fun bits. Work connected us for so many years, it holds a valuable spot in my life. There isn’t a person at work who was not meaningful for my life. They are all dear to me and have their own individual personalities, which even now manage to put a smile on my face.
What is my attitude towards retirement?
So there, I have an answer.
If my life was one complex sentence, it would be saying things of beauty.
As any complex sentence, it would have many commas, expressing many meaningful continuations – all important, all interconnected. Today, as I retire from my work, I know this is not the period at the end of my life story, this is just a comma. After this one, I expect most beautiful new things to come, all there because of what preceded, not despite it.
This is the attitude towards retirement I choose:
My lovely story, full of love and sacrifice, holds 43 years of marriage, two beautiful children, 3 gorgeous grandchildren, 40 years of career and some new adventures to come.
About the Author
Gordana Čolić lives in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She writes poems and prose including short stories. Her writing relies on her inner life as much as her love for the family and the people that surround her.
Throughout 40 years, along with her career in public service and raising her family, Gordana has written a collection of over 200 short stories and poems.