The bucket list: Grazing in the Grass

(Twelfth of a series – 1st of 2 parts)

“…If life is like driving on the freeway, it is supposedly a time when you begin to downshift your gears, getting off thefast lane  as you move to the middle lane and gradually sidle to the farthest right lane to find your exit…”

WHAT’S your game plan when you retire?

The timing can be one of 3 ways: you yourself planned when it will happen; the government said it’s time you did; or circumstances beyond your control, like the onset of illness, finally put you out to pasture.

Or are you one of those who have decided to keep on going and going simply doing what you do best beating the bushes, like the energizer bunny? There is tremendous life force in you that needs to be spent. You ignore your age and trust your instincts. You are powered by nothing but chutzpah and prayer, knowing deep down that you will simply wake up one day and decide this is as far as it goes. Enough is enough.

Typically around your early sixties, retirement, as a stage of life, looms large staring at you in the face. If life is like driving on the freeway, it is supposedly a time when you begin to downshift your gears, getting off the fast lane as you move to the middle lane and gradually sidle to the farthest right lane to find your exit.

You head home to the gentle comforts of home sweet home knowing you never have to get up so early starting tomorrow to do the same darn thing you’ve been doing for decades.

Freedom at last!!! Breaking the shackles of the workaday world feels wonderful. There is now time to do the things that you have always wanted to do and maybe flesh out those dreams that have been percolating quietly in the back burner. Now you have the time, adequate resources and, most importantly, the blessing of all blessings, you are still in the pink of health.

Thank God, hallelujah!!! You have run the course with time left over to savor being alive.

You feel like doing cartwheels —that is—if your osteoporotic bones and stiff limbs will let you. Meh… Probably NOT!

Ideally, you are ready for this stage of life. That is —if you have dotted your i’s and cross your t’s— as you render a full plate of life experiences, good and bad, while trying to balance home life and work life for many years…

Of course, you can always go into denial and think and act young but your contrarian body will probably beg to differ at times yanking you back to face the reality of having logged a lot of miles on your one and only body. 

Suddenly you have to deal with aches and pains in places you never thought existed. It doesn’t help that your doctor reads gobbledygook sets of numbers about your blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, creatinin levels, blood pressure readings, A1C number, kidney and liver health and so forth.

Your medical provider wants to submit you to mammogram and colonoscopy and all types of tests to find out if you are still of sound mind and sound body, purportedly so you can enjoy the rest of your remaining years. It’s something borrowed from the automotive industry: 100 K check, 200 K check to see if all your parts are still in working order and which parts need replacement.

Okay, admittedly, these are not gobbledygook numbers but they indicate that this time around, you have no excuse to ignore the warning signs of your mortality.  All it says is: SHAPE UP OR SHIP OUT. OR ELSE you can go to the wide blue yonder flat on your back sooner rather than later. SIGH…

But there is a serious reason why you hem and haw to put off all these gamut of tests. What if they find something? Oy vey! You’ve run the full course of life only to deal with another daunting challenge. Also, you ascribe to the belief that what you don’t know won’t hurt you. Or so it seems. 

I have heard of sad stories of people, who after just a few years of retirement, are diagnosed with aggressive stage 4 cancer or some form of  serious illness and are left to deal with a very short lease on what is left of life. Of course, these stories are purely anecdotal and isolated but they do happen.

You feel older and if you culled out the nuggets of wisdom from yours and other’s experiences, you’ve become even a little wiser perhaps. You have listened half-heartedly to those financial planners and even those persistent advance funeral planners who have been bugging you about the benefits of being prepared for the inevitable.

You have taken pains to sock away a smidgen of moolah for a long time in your 401K or saved a few bucks by yourself and by your estimates (and provided you are sensible with a tight fixed income), you will remain fiscally viable, without having to rely on a government dole-out, even if the unthinkable happens. You plan to exit this world with your dignity intact.

You hope that a smattering of beautiful memories, yours as well as of those you leave behind, are indelibly marked in a few hearts and minds for a generation or two — strong enough to move them to bring you flowers on your gravesite long after you’re gone.  If your life were to be compressed to a 60-second video, you hope that the awful parts were edited out and landed on the cutting room floor permanently deleted. The saddest thing about a life is to be forgotten as though you never lived.

To be continued next week…

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Nota Bene: Monette Adeva Maglaya is SVP of Asian Journal Publications, Inc. To send comments, e-mail monette.maglaya@asianjournalinc.com

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