Southern Indiana Living

JAN-FEB 2019

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Jan/Feb 2019 • 9 I was about to head to my favorite Flor- ida beach. Hurricane Michael beat me there. My visit got put off, of course. I will get there when the getting again is good, or good enough. Michael's victims are too many. I certainly am not among them. Once more, though, reality rules. The reality is that retirement is hard- er to figure out than my cellphone bill. A dear friend just called. An early-retirement offer had come in her email. She was ex- cited. She was frightened. She was ready to say yes. She was ready to say no. She was me, going on seven years ago. Let's get together, I urged. I will help you through this. Yeah, right. Like I have a clue. Be- fore I teach senior citizenship, I had better learn it. How's retirement? Great, I want to say. It's a constant adjustment, however. Long after my buyout, retirement remains as much a challenge as a comfort. How do you decide to give up work? Retirement keeps happening both to me and for me. I hug it some days and wrestle it others. I had assumed retirement is something I could do. I also figured I could disco dance or do yoga. No and no. The thing is, I cannot exactly drop out of retirement. Actually I can, of course. I could greet Walmart shoppers or fill orders at Amazon. I could deliver lunches from Panera Bread or drive for Uber or, heaven help us, substitute teach. If only all old people acted their age. Instead, peer pressure flits around me as pesky as mosquitoes. Our president is older than me. My cardiologist is older than me. The woman who runs the local homeless shelter is older than me. People work into their 80s and 90s. They make me feel like a bum. I cannot be the only old guy happily sitting around with little better to do some days than to read every obit and to eat lunch at 11. Travel more. Volunteer more. Read more. Exercise more. I do all that. I rec- ommend all that. None of it comes with a paycheck, however. I have had some sort of paycheck since I was barely a teenager. Paychecks are addictive. A job comes with the satisfaction of a job done well. An occupation still defines me. I am not Dale Moss the traveler or Dale Moss the volunteer or Dale Moss the avid read- er or Dale Moss the YMCA regular. I am Dale Moss the columnist. I only write two or three pieces per month, all freelance. This time last decade, I was writing four columns each week and wearing out every adverb in my vocabu- lary. Writing identified me. My career has downshifted into my pastime. I flirt with writing still less. I flirt with saying farewell to what little sched- ule I keep, to what little responsibility I take. I try to convince myself to become a full-fledged has-been. Then one of you kind readers com- pliments me about something I've writ- ten. Bless you. It only takes one such re- minder of why I matter. You don't intend to complicate things, but the plan to hang up my thesaurus goes out the window. So shut up. No, wait. Don't. Please. I don't need fancy. I no longer miss missing out on being at the biggest con- certs or ball games. I am okay with stuff that's more OK than oh wow. Culver's cuts it just as nicely as does one of the steak places down the block. I do welcome predictability, how- ever. It ruined my day when the grocery stopped selling my favorite salad dress- ing. My barber ponders her own retire- ment; I'm almost glad I'm almost totally bald. That beach trip? I take it annually. However understandable its delay, I am thrown off. To me, surprise is a four-letter word. Talk about unpredictability, retire- ment requires work. So much for the headaches stopping when the job did. Get up later? Put off taking Social Security? Do the snowbird thing? Leave, or spend, an inheritance? Making decisions can mean making mistakes and there's no cheat sheet. I do my best, but my best has not been all that great. I would tell my retirement-contem- plating friend to do as I say, not as I have done. But I'm not sure even what to say. Let's see. I met with a financial plan- ner. That proved quite helpful, more com- forting than any glass of pricey bourbon. Also, I let almost nothing get in the way of my gym visits. That, too, is a bigger plus than I had imagined. Part-time work, though, it surely does cut both ways. Worth the effort or the pay? If only I could figure that out one way or another. Until I can, here I am. I guess I can keep writing as long as you keep reading. What I do is what I am, all in all. You may not need me. But apparently I still need you. Could be worse. You should have seen me disco dance. • After 25 years, Dale Moss retired as Indiana columnist for The Courier-Journal. He now writes weekly for the News and Tribune. Dale and his wife Jean live in Jeffersonville in a house that has been in his family since the Civil War. Dale's e-mail is dale.moss@twc.com A Note to Baby Boomers Why Does Retirement Take so Much Work? Making decisions can mean making mistakes and there's no cheat sheet. I do my best, but my best has not been all that great.

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