Wednesday, September 15, 2010


When I left the workforce nearly a year ago, I never used the word “retiring,” or “retired.” Those words sound too final. After all, my entire life has been centered around working and my job. My work gave me an identity and if I no longer had that, who would I be? So, I left the door open by merely saying, “I’m not working now.” I guess in my mind it was a trial of sorts or a face-saving mechanism. If I wasn’t happy, I could always get a job without friends and family saying “you couldn’t handle retirement.”

But, George, my husband of nearly 42 years, does not have the luxury of a “trial” retirement. For him, it’s all or nothing. We always envisioned that 62 would be the cut-off date for him, after working with the State of Georgia for thirty years. So, following the guidelines of a three-month notice, last March I went online and started filling out his application for Social Security. I was doing fine until I reached the question, “What is the date of the last day you will work?” That question stopped me dead in my tracks.

I realized how final that would be. I realized that with both of us retired, it would be the end of a long chapter in our lives and the future was very unknown. I quickly decided that was not a date that I could take responsibility for. That was George’s decision. So, I abandoned the Social Security application and waited for him to get home from work to discuss it. I fully expected him to give me a date and I would resume the application the next day.

I never dreamed that “to retire, or not retire” would be such a hard decision. By far, it has been the hardest decision in our lifetime. Admittedly, the economic situation has played a major role in the decision-making process. However, there is far more involved than that. George has been blessed with a profession that truly allows him to help people. He is the “VA man.” That is his identity. He thrives on helping veterans and making their life better. No matter where he goes, be it days, nights, weekends, he actively seeks people to help. For him, it is more than giving up a job. It is giving up a way of life.

So, the application I started in March has never been completed. I’m still waiting on him to give me the date of the last day he will work.


  1. George will know when the time has come. With me, it was when I was seeing other retirees enjoying a beautiful spring day and realized that I could be doing that. Making more money was a fruitless goal, since the cost of living went up each year. We learned to live on what we have coming in. Retirement. I love it.

  2. I have been retired 10 it. true what folks say "how did I find time to work? retirement isn't for everyone.