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Retired-Life Joys and Challenges – 2013

Here we are nearing the end of another year. They really do seem to go by faster each year don’t they? Taking a moment to reflect, this year was probably typical. But that doesn’t mean it was uneventful.

As seniors, our challenges are pretty self-evident. Physically, we have begun to slow down, probably gotten a bit weaker, and somehow transformed into the grandparents we used to know. The good news for most of us, our mobility can be improved and maintained with exercise. I am still shocked by research that found 80% of seniors don’t get any regular exercise. Of course, there are natural injuries and illnesses that come into play, but the fact is most seniors lose most of their mobility due to their sedentary lifestyle. It’s a challenge we really need to take very seriously.

Emotionally, being a senior certainly has its share of challenges. Personally, I’ve never had a year in which I’ve lost more family members and friends. Its gut wrenching and you never really get over it. When I think of these wonderful and influential people in my life, it takes my breath away. All we can do is honor them by remembering the contributions they have made to our lives and be thankful for knowing them. Losing each one is the price paid for the honor and privilege of having them in our lives. In addition, most of us have family members or friends with serious health issues. Being supportive just doesn’t feel like it’s enough, but it’s often all we can do. Isn’t that what we would we want? Being there for the people we love is the essence of relationships and life itself.

The joys of being a senior are most frequently not appreciated. You have to get past so many of your fellow travelers with their wonderful sayings such as, “Getting old is hell.” Well, getting old is not always a walk in the park, but neither was becoming a young teenager, or a young adult. After being discharged from the military, I had no money, was back in school, working nights at a gas station, and had a wife and baby in a three room apartment above a garage. I would not want to go back to that time. Research tells us that seniors are the most content and positive of all age groups. Young adults fare the worst and have the most cases of depression and suicide. Maybe we are less anxious because we’ve reached that stage of life when we can say and do most anything we choose without worrying as much about the consequences.

The bottom line is life, no matter what our age, is what we make of it. It’s how we react to each and every situation, sling and arrow. If you’re a grumpy old man or lady, it’s a pretty sure bet you’ve always been that way. I’ve always enjoyed the story about the baseball rookie in spring camp who approached the great hitter Ted Williams seeking advice and said, “I just can’t hit a curve ball.” Williams replied, “Don’t swing at it.” When life throws us a curve, we can swing, cuss, and fume at our misfortune, or we can simply appreciate our opportunity to be at the plate.

My wife Trisha and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

Trisha and John Parker

Trisha and John Parker

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