posted Jul 30, 2014, 12:54 PM by SASC Admin   [ updated Jul 30, 2014, 12:56 PM ]

I can’t think of one word that concurrently denotes excitement, fear, happiness, humor and confusion. It is (hopefully) smack dab in the middle of the road to becoming a senior citizen. It doesn't only represent the end of a career, but the next act in life, which for many of us is the big unknown.

No doubt people have looked forward to the magical day for years. When I started work, some 38 years ago, participation in a retirement plan was a given. Granted, at 22, most of us needed to be told that we would someday want to stop working, but that day seemed almost incomprehensible.

You’ll just set this tiny amount aside and the company will match it and manage it, and voila: when you retire you will have a nice little nest egg.

This, coupled with social security, would provide a regular income. Granted, your income will likely be less that you had hoped for, but who needs all that money after the kids have grown and moved out? In other words, there goes my mad money.

The things we didn't anticipate are many, but include living longer, quality of life, the seemingly rapid increase in Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related disease, health issues, running out of money and financial crises that somehow make that nest egg magically disappear as magically as it grew over a lifetime.

Then, the kids start to return to the nest. No matter what we say, we never stop worrying about them anyway, and we are happy to be helpful. We find ourselves raising grandchildren and suddenly realize that those things we dealt with in college and high school, today’s generation of school kids are faced with in middle and elementary school. Then our parents need more attention and we find that in our retirement we are sandwiched between our grandchildren, children and parents.

Depending on your age when you retire, you may find yourself looking for either full or part-time work. This could be motivated by need or inspired by boredom. Not everyone loves to travel, and you can putter around the house only so much. You likely don’t need to earn as much as you used to, but as the Chuck Berry song says, the little money comin’ in worked out well.
Granted, You Never Can Tell is about a young newly married couple, but really, you never can tell what life will look like 40 years later.

We have been thinking about this retirement question quite a bit lately, and today, my wife Sue Kelley retires after 34 years as a respiratory therapist, the last 22 years working in the neo-natal nursery at UCSF. When I think of what I have accomplished over the years, it pales in comparison to the impact Sue has had on countless lives, families, co-workers and, well, her family. Congratulations baby, you made it and we are all extremely proud of you.