By Laura Heffner
How many times do you hear about someone retiring after working many years and then their health declines and with it, all their well-laid plans of "when I retire" go out the window? It's a cruel irony is it not? My mother retired in late 2010. March 2011 diagnosed with lung cancer and this is after being diagnosed with colon cancer in 2006 before she retired. Goes through chemo, surgery and just this past week has two new tumors and possibly bone cancer.
I think of all the years she worked. Starting in 1981 as a receptionist with no real college education at her place of employment, she worked her way up into a corporate director. Many years of long hours, weekends, travel and a vacation here and there (though she was dogged with a Blackberry in later years) and time with her family. She planned all these things she wanted to do in her yard for when she retired. Not that she seemed to have grandiose plans. She was forced to retire during the economic downturn. I think it took her by surprise.
This past week I thought about how hard she worked. Hours lost with her family. And for what really? To be forced out before she was ready. Granted she was given a good severance package etc. but it was not on her terms. Her life revolved heavily around her job and her grandkids. She is in her early 70's, which seems young to have to deal with all of this cancer but it can really strike us at any time. You really never know how much time you have.
So why wait until you retire? Why kill yourself at that job and sacrifice all that time with your family if it means in the end, they toss you on your ass or you get sick the moment you retire or worse, you never make it to retirement age at all. Granted we have to continue being responsible but what could you enjoy today that you might not be able to when you are older? Why take the chance?
Each day is a gift. How many have I squandered away? Hundreds, thousands? I'm sure. I am trying to be more mindful about my day to day existence. I have been thinking about my job, my life in general, what I could do today that I have been putting off until later? How can I be a better daughter? Parent? Wife? Friend? How can I serve those around me rather than being afraid to give? What do I have on my bucket list that maybe I shouldn't put off until years down the road?
All we have is today. There are no guarantees.