(our granddaughter Jasmine, Hubby and me at Redfish)
Forget what you heard or read about retirement.
Forget what your idea of a perfect retirement is.
Forget the cruises, the cottage by the sea, the ideal life you thought you wanted in retirement.
What you need is to be among young people for the rest of your life.
There. That's the secret to old people's happiness. Keep yourself available to young people and your life continues to be fun, unpredictable, full of pleasant surprises, and most of all, engaging and distracting. If you have to spend all your disposable income to stay close to your grandchildren and great-grandchildren, you will not regret it.
You'll need more distractions as you grow weak, infirm, grumpy.
Distracting? Yes! Young people are spontaneous dis- tractors. They will jump up and start dancing, or break into a song, drive off to the supermarket to pick up ingredients for ice cream at the drop of a pin. Young people will distract you from what worries you the rest of the time. With them around, you only see the arc of their lives, the future still unfolding with millions of possibilities, rather than the way your knees send shooting pains every time you sit on the toilet seat.
You'll need to see how your money can improve your grands' future.
Really? Can't you just spend it? No. Your doctor, pharmacies and clinics have you tied down already. You might have some fun at the mall. But since you have no more room in your house for extra anything, what's the use? You could go out to dinner every night. Yes. But you are diabetic, and eating out caused you to become so. Now, you have to settle for salads and fish at most places, with no extra salt or butter or anything. You should have gone out to dinner in your twenties, and then to the gym. But you had neither the money, nor the time to do either of these.
You need to live a year full of possibilities.
How? You may not see much in the way of possibilities for yourself, except perhaps needing new reading glasses, replacing that bridge in your mouth, and getting the local handyman clean the gutters at the end of winter. All routine events. But see life that your grandchild in college is living, and your memories of those days remind you to go shopping and pack up a care package for the youngster. You would have loved getting those extra socks in winter; jars of peanut butter; even a special delivery of pizza during final weeks.
Life will teach your grands many lessons.
But you, and only you can teach him/her that family remains close through thick and thin. That distances don't count any more. That mistakes help your footing. That knowledge is lost if not applied. That everything we do, and say, and convey through small gestures, everything adds up to create our soul, to give us patterns and attitudes and desires that help us thrive under all circumstances that will appear in our travels through life.