A RETIRED LIFE: THREE INTERVIEWS
by Salve Pena Neelankavil
“I wake up early in the morning to realize that it is not the usual day. I am retired. I don’t know how to spend the day. I pass sometime with the newspaper and rest watching TV. By then my grandkids come back from school. I plan to go out with the family but everyone is tired and they all have their own set of work todo. I have no other place to go but to dig myself into those philosophical books. The day is over and I am back to my bed towelcome another day of loneliness, loss, frustration and grief.Retired is being twice tired, I thought: First tired of working, thentired of not.”
This is the Life after Retirement
The accomplished Neelankavils (2009)
According to three retirees that I interviewed during my trip toIndia in February 2009, there is so much more to retired life thanthat described by Richard Armour. Below is a summary of myinterviewees’ reflections.
retired as Senior Administrator, New Delhi,India:I was born up in the Himalayan Hills, surrounded by lush greenforests of oak and evergreen pine and firs. I spent my childhoodin the majestic snow-covered Chokhamba, Bandarpoonch,Neelkanth, and a whole range of Himalayan peaks. I retired in acrowded city in Delhi, North India. Living in a flat land surroundedby a concrete jungle falls short of life in the open country.I often wandered before retirement what I would be doing. I hadno pension plan and neither did India provide for social security.The Lord has blessed my life with good things. Being involved athome and at church helps me maintain a healthy body, alertmind, and soul. Retired life is bliss! This is the time to reflect,relax, refresh, recharge, revive, renew, and rediscover oneself.One has to create a beautiful life around it.
There is no setguideline to follow, only you can shape your “new life”
. Youwill be fully occupied with no idle time. Someone said, “When aman is alone with his own soul, undisturbed by the excitement of external things, his thoughts, unless he is beset by some violentpassion, will lead him back to God.”Statistics show that a great number of retirees die within the firstyear of their retired life as they do not follow their bliss to keepthem occupied. Therefore as a retiree:• Engage your gifts, talents and skills.• Do all those things you love.• Enjoy the company of those you love.• Spend time visiting people and places you have dreamed of.• Utilize and put into practice your hobbies,
cooking,painting, gardening, golf, swimming, bridge.• Work as a volunteer with social, health, and other philanthropic groups and agencies.• Above all, keep your faith to be filled with His grace all thetime.
retired as Director, Jute Research, Kolkata, India:During the time I worked (35 years), apart from professional andsocial engagements there was no time for anything else. Once Iretired and was assured of a pension which covered our basicneeds, there was no need to work for money any more. This wasa time for me to sit back and relax, to count my blessings andthank God for them, to forgive those who have hurt me and prayfor them, to re-establish lost contacts with friends from timespast, to participate in distance education programs, to read bookson various topics, to listen to music, to meditate and pray, and tostay active physically, walking and engaging in other forms of exercise. One has to take care of one’s body with regular check-ups, treatments, and procedures as needed. One does not needto be anxious about the future, God will take care of it. You canget involved in the church and participate in service activities,visit the sick, especially people who are bed-ridden and confinedto the house, hospitals, and senior citizen communities. Possiblythere was not much time while working to spend with one'schildren—one can compensate that with grandparenting,watching sports together, reading with and to your grandchildren,being available whenever help and support is needed. Initiatethem into a wide variety of activities, refine their value system,sow seeds of creativity, share in their joys and sorrows, be asafety net when they fall, tend to their bruised feelings as you doto their scraped knees. To grow old is a privilege, andgrandparenting is a blessing!
retired as Director, Red Cross, Gembke,Germany.I had made up my mind to retire at the age of 58 (in 2002). InGermany one retires at the age of 65. Even though I liked thework of caring for the sick (my lifelong profession), lately theresponsibilities had begun to weigh me down. I was soexhausted physically and mentally. Early retirement meantreceiving less pension; I wondered if I could live on “less.” Iwanted to have more time to live and I was cognizant that Iwouldn’t be happy just sitting at home. I didn’t know what itmeant to just enjoy your time or relax.Even before I stopped working, I conceptualized a project which Ihad wanted to develop after my retirement. I wanted to set up a“Hospice,” the first in Gembke, Germany. I was involved in theplanning, hiring, fund raising, and managing of its operation. Iworked tirelessly on this project, working pro bono for 7 years.Despite the politics involved and carrying heavier responsibilities,I received a lot of satisfaction because it allowed me to be withpeople during their last days of life and to comfort their relativesto make their loss less painful and anxious. I fostered theatmosphere of love and concern.Now I am slowly reducing my long days since this project is doingwell. I am disentangling myself from the active, busy working life.I have come to realize that I was tired of the intrigues and that Ineeded more rest and more time to pursue my interests, tospend more time with my three grandchildren. I am not scaredthat I won’t have enough to do to keep myself busy. I will try toenjoy my life and live a fulfilled life.