Monday, July 22 2024 - 3:40 AM
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Ripe Bananas

Without ceremony or a gold watch, my “retirement” document arrived last week from the state where I was licensed as a mental health counselor. Earlier I had sent the required application and check (yes, money to retire) and also had done the same with my professional insurance. I had expected to be active in my latest profession for a few more years, but events and health had circumvented those ideas. I found that I needed to avoid excess drama in my life, more time with my grandchildren, plus the ability to travel with my husband.

So I spent a few moments wondering if I had given up too quickly after the hard work of getting my state license. The two extra classes and hundreds of hours of face-to-face client sessions were required when I moved from where I was previously licensed. Then there was studying for and passing the national exam. In all of the hoops to jump through, I met interesting and gracious people, plus answers to prayer over places to practice. They were just more chapters in the journey of education, knowledge, and application. 

A New Stage of Life

Yet, it is so bizarre to think of myself in this stage of life. It happened so quickly! One day I was worried about pimples, and the next day it was age spots. Am I all used up? I remember attending the retirement parties for my father-in-law and my father. Afterward, my husband’s father actively volunteered at a local hospital besides enjoying exercise and crafts at a senior center. Later he spent years as a caregiver until he could no longer manage. My father worked part-time for several years at a funeral home as a hearse driver and traffic manager. After that, he worked non-stop as a caregiver for my mother until she died. Both mothers had differing experiences in the workforce while maintaining housekeeping and nurturing roles. (My mother-in-law has lived almost 40 years past her retirement.)

Now, I am not actively pursuing advancement or business. Selfishly, I wonder if anyone will remember me at some of the places I did work earlier in life. Will someone find an article I wrote or a scrap with my name and wonder, “Whatever happened to her?” In the past 15 years, I have gotten used to people asking if I am related to my son when our last name is mentioned. I am proud that people recognize him, even if I did arrive on the scene before him. And It’s been a joy to have my daughter introduce me to the people where she works. Did someone say we looked like sisters?

Enough Earth Time Left: What Next?

My grandsons may never associate me with a job or work outside the home. I pray they will remember me as one who took time to be with them, read to them, pick berries with them, go bowling, attend a play, and have other adventures. What a privilege that I have been able to participate in conferences and visit friends with my husband. There is much to be thankful for in retirement since I have known some people who don’t have that option financially or physically.  

But is this the point where we don’t consider buying green bananas anymore? Is there enough earth time left for another ministry, another investment—to heal, consult, and cruise? We now know that people are capable of learning and even growing (new brain neurons) while in the zone of retirement. It can become a time of focus more on “being” instead of always associating one’s life with “doing.” Or a better blend of both. Perhaps we are just becoming “ripe bananas!”

I still like to learn, share ideas, and work on creative endeavors, if not a little slower. I have faith that retirement may be the time of my life with rich spiritual growth and insights. The Holy Spirit is not discouraged by our wrinkles, white hair, or creaky joints. I don’t recall that any of Jesus’ disciples or apostles quit sharing His love or His divine therapy while they had breath. I am so thankful to have known my Savior for these many years. So I keep asking Him, “What next, Jesus?” Here am I. 

Questions for personal journaling or group discussion:

  1. What do you think of when you hear “retirement?”
  2. What would make up a good retirement plan for you? 

If you liked this, you might also like When I Grow Up | Lifewise: Rethinking Retirement 

Karen Spruill writes from Florida.

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About Karen Spruill

Karen Spruill

writes from Orlando, Florida.

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