Caution. This column may not be appropriate for reading by wives of “too busy” retiree husbands who don’t have time for the grandchildren.
For many male senior citizens today, their earlier vision of “retirement” hasn’t quite worked out the way it was expected to.
In the long run, that may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
The stereotypical male retiree supposedly plays golf in the morning, has a few martinis in the evening, pays little attention to stock dividends that are set on direct deposit to ever-increasing mutual funds, and takes several obesity-promoting cruises each year.
By following that typical schedule, the male retiree avoids many, if not most, of the “responsibilities” associated with his pre-retirement days. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. Besides, isn’t the male senior citizen retiree suppose to just relax and have fun? You worked all your life for it … right?
That is what the senior citizen retirement marketing “hype” would like for you to fall hook, line and sinker for.
My recommendation: Don’t … at least don’t in moderation!
Don’t give up the golf (or other enjoyed) activity entirely if you really enjoy golf. But, don’t make your wife a golf “widow” either or ignore other life-long responsibilities.
Enjoy what you consume, both food and beverage, keeping good health information close at hand as an “over the limit” reminder. Pay attention to what your wife has to say about health issues. She probably has forgotten more about health matters than you have learned! Besides, deep down you know that she has your bests interests in mind.
And, as for those stock dividends that have shrunk dramatically during the past two months—don’t count on them in the future either! In fact, just playing the “numbers” reality game, taking current estimates of longevity into account, suggests that male senior citizens would probably do better during their actual remaining life-time by being invested in much safer investments such as insured certificates of deposit or government-backed securities. Free up some time and sanity by not having to watch your “stocks” implode.
Also, keep in mind that one person’s “cruise” is another person’s short-term jail sentence. There are very few places in a free society, such as on a cruise ship to “somewhere,” where you are confined in a relatively small space for a period of time with hundreds of people you do not know and from which setting you are not permitted to leave at a time of your choosing. As for the food offerings, “gorge” is standard fare with the ship’s doctor on-call.
What does any of this have to do with grandchildren? Everything!
This is about recognizing and setting our personal senior citizen retiree time and activity priorities.
The problem is recognizing that little of what the “world” presents as a model retirement for senior citizen male retirees results in any manner of joy that can come close to the true joy received from spending time … yes, real time … with your grandchildren.
Ideally that relationship bonding begins when the grandchild is born and continues on throughout life. Even with our modern-day travel distances between family members, it certainly is possible to include visits every few months. The cost of the average ocean cruise for two would cover much if not all of the incidental land travel costs to spend time with grandchildren … and with their parents!
Even with my example of “golf” becoming too time consuming for the retiree, that can be turned into a fun experience for grandchildren. The game of golf is generally not played alone. If you have “young” older grandchildren, what a wonderful game to share with a grandchild. Just let the “others” play through … they’ll understand and appreciate what you’re doing!
And, I’m sure you’ve noticed that grandchildren (and your own children) are very observant of most of what you do … and, they tend to copy much of it. A grandparent can often set the nutritional and health standard for an observant grandchild. Make sure the standard is set high enough.
They also take notice of how much time you spend in their lives. Sometimes that may be long-distant communications rather than personal visits. A card of remembrance here, an email message there, an occasional telephone call … or just a surprise visit to that Saturday Little League game. They notice!
And, if you have the chance to have the grandchildren come to your home for an extended visit (giving their parents a rest), shuffle your schedule to make room to just focus on them. With a little effort on your part, the time together will be cherished by all.
As we seniors live in retirement, we get to know the meaning and the limit of time better than at any other period in our lives. The time to build a lasting and loving relationship with grandchildren is now.
You can always let the cruise ship leave port without you. The same does not hold true for time spent with those special grandchildren.
Now, for you wives who did not heed my caution above and peeked at this column anyway, be sure to place the column page in near proximity to your husband’s special reading place.
© Submitted by Bob Grafe for publication on November 6, 2008