Golden Days of Leisure
By Carol Dee Meeks
(Interview with Carol follows at the end of this article.)
Months of arranging, rearranging and getting our finances in order before retirement, brought our golden years, with leisure time, to a peak. Actually, we awaited this decision and all the issues of stepping down from job security, for four or five years. Then the time for our lifelong change was here.
"But what are you going to do all day?" my boss asked when I handed him my letter of resignation.
"We are going to have fun."
"Carol. You will be soooooooooo bored."
"I hope not. We’ve prepared for this for a long spell. It is time to do something different."
Advice from those already retired was mixed. We were warned of lazy days ahead. We were told about days filled with boredom and that we'd be back at work in less than a year. We were even told that we were making a big mistake.
The only positive responses were from people twenty years or so from retirement. Still, we welcomed this time with open arms, promising each other retirement days would be happy days for us. We have always been different from other people, so we went into retirement with a different attitude.
I pondered one of the remarks we had heard from several people, that we "would become lazy and unwilling to work or engage in energetic activity." My husband and I agreed to not become TV retiree-a-holics, and that we would only watch the boob-tube during the day for noontime news. So far, it stays on during March Madness, College Baseball, College Softball and sometimes Law & Order. (I am addicted to that show.)
We also enrolled in the local Community Bible Study Class – him in the men's group, and me in the ladies’. This has been most fulfilling and was a wise thing to do. The study has brought us a connection we've never had in our entire marriage. Our spiritual growth is phenomenal – I see it on Pat's face; I feel it in my heart.
"Carol, my life with you has always been good, but it is better now than ever."
"Life is good," I agreed. "Our slowing down years are fun, and I wouldn't want to spend them with anyone else."
"I wish I’d had more compassion when I worked," he tells me, gazing at the floor, then rubbing his hand through his graying burr haircut.
"We start today. We can't change history."
In our CBS study, we looked at Matthew 25:1-13. The details of the ten virgins: five of them were prepared by taking oil in flasks along with the lamps, and five were foolish by taking only their lamps. To me, the foolish ones were lazy. They were not alert. They did not look ahead for the future and it cost them attendance to the wedding feast. When they returned from buying additional oil, the door was shut, and the Lord told them that He did not know them. Just a few extra minutes and a little extra effort would have admitted them to see the bridegroom.
In Matthew 25:14-30, we also studied about the man who went on a journey and loaned money to three of his slaves. The slave that buried his talent was lazy, and when the Master returned, He told him that he was not only lazy, but also wicked. All he had was taken from him and given to the slave that had worked and earned double what he had been given.
In retirement, I want to remain alert and active, not asleep as the five virgins, or lazy like the slave. I want to be prepared for eternity. We've learned that life here on earth is the pre-game show for eternal life. I no longer crave an eight to five-schedule, but I don't want to be asleep when Jesus comes again either. Pat and I ask Him to walk with us and keep us safe in these golden days and retiring ways – and He abundantly provides for us.
Pat and I want our retirement to be fun – but not all fun. I was raised with the saying, "All work and no play makes George a dull boy." But, I also know that all fun and no work makes one shallow, dull, and eventually indolent, and even slothful. We want these years to count. We want to give back to the community that has helped us raise our boys.
"Let's go check out MEALS ON WHEELS," my husband suggested one day.
He was excited as we drove into the parking lot at RSVP. The director jumped with joy; a joy that showed in her grin that stretched from ear to ear. After our visit, we both agreed we would participate with this activity when next our church was scheduled to be involved.
We do not have piles of money, but we come and go as we wish. When it is time to see a new grandchild, our trip can last as long as Pat's wallet isn't empty. In our slowing down years, we cook, we visit our family, we wear our jammies all day if we want, or we can go shopping. The main thing is, we do it together. We are blessed beyond measure and are smelling the roses in these lazy days of retirement – the days that fill our hearts with joy.
Carol writes the encouragements for the prayer chapel at the church she and her husband attend. Her love is mostly poetry and Carol has won five contests so far in 2005. She has two sons and two grandsons. Carol and her husband of 40-plus years are happily retired. You can write to Carol through the Letters page of this magazine.
Living Life to the Full – Meet Carol Dee Meeks …
Interview by Debbie Porter
FWM: Carol, congratulations on being the very first article to appear in our newest section, "Crown of Splendor." I have to say that I couldn’t think of a better article to get it started than "Golden Days of Leisure." So many people look forward to retirement, but so often it seems to fall short of expectations. What would be your best piece of advice to anyone who is feeling a little let down by the "Golden Years?"
CAROL: You feel the time coming to step down from working, so when it starts, start cleaning up your bills...and when you retire, get your sights on God! My husband and I do a daily devotion together, and it starts our day on the right foot. We have grown so much from this, especially as his health problems surface. Every day I ask God to help me be content with where I am in life.
FWM: The relationship you have with your husband, Pat, really is quite inspiring. A lot of couples will admit, particularly the wives, that retirement brings with it quite a lot of new challenges – the greatest of all usually being the need for time alone. Has that ever been an issue for you and Pat? How do you balance the time together with your own individual space, when you are together 24 hours a day?
CAROL: No, it has not been an issue with us. First of all, Pat is a rare breed. I get up before he does, do my daily devotion, and work on my Community Bible Study Lesson. By the time I finish these daily items, he is up and ready to eat. He reads the paper, while I get into my computer. We have an unbinding schedule, subject to change. If we want to go somewhere, we go. If not, we stay put. So far, we are compatible.
FWM: One of the best things you mentioned in your article was the fact that you both want your retirement to be fun – but not all fun. It’s wonderful that you have combined the freedom to do what you want, with a desire to continue to serve. Why do you think it is so important for retirees to keep active and serving?
CAROL: It keeps you young...and balanced – time with younger people and time with older people. It also helps you put your priorities straight.
FWM: Carol, I know that you regularly write little encouragements for the Prayer Chapel at your church, but did you start writing before you retired, or was this something that you’ve really stepped into since?
CAROL: I was asked before I retired, but refused. Then asked again after I retired, and refused again. Then after the third approach, Pat and I decided this must be God’s idea for me to write them...and since I want to be a writer, I was blowing a golden opportunity. Thus, I agreed. I have grown spiritually so much since I agreed to this endeavor.
FWM: May you both continue to grow closer to the Lord and each other during these precious golden days!