My father was a carpenter who became a Skilled Trades Supervisor for Detroit Edison, a major utility. He retired early to golf, fish and construct wood picture frames for fun. My first father-in-law was a Welding Foreman for a major office furniture manufacturer who turned down a promotion to Production Superintendent to ensure he had time for the fresh water fishing and the golf that he loved. My second father-in-law was a Production and Inventory Control Manager who went on to become CEO of the same major office furniture manufacturer. He retired and was recalled for a year before living another 25 years on the golf course and doing some occasional fishing.
So, what does this tell me; what can I learn from my “forefathers?” Is my work life blue to white collar and are my “golden years” to be spent enjoying fishing and golf?
My father told his four sons to retire earlier than he did at age 59 because retirement was the best time of life. My father died at age 77 and had only one regret that I know of which was agreeing to elective heart surgery to replace a pacemaker. He died one week after the surgery and told his sons at his hospital bedside what a mistake it was to agree to that final surgery.
My first father-in-law told me to get a couple of hobbies early in life to ensure I had a way to escape home life whenever I needed. He advised specifically joining him in fishing and golf, which I did for many years. He died at age 64 of medical complications from diabetes.
My second father-in-law advised world travel which was another hobby he had. Otherwise, he didn’t say that much to me as he was very active in his own pursuits and demonstrated his values more than spoke of them. He died at age 93 and unfortunately his last three years were using a walker and napping a lot. He had beaten colon cancer, multiple melanomas (from so much fishing and golf?), and finally the debilitation brought on from a stroke.
I’m 66 now, mostly retired for two years, doing a bit of consulting for my former employer. I gave up golf many years ago and rarely fish anymore. I’m on medications for Type 2 diabetes and poor cholesterol counts. I’ve had three surgeries for skin cancer and use a chemotherapy cream once a year to reduce the likelihood of future surgeries. My full-time work life began as a spot welder and progressed to an HR Director before leaving to finish my career as a Human Capital Consultant for the last 20 years. So, a lot of similarities to my forefathers but some possible differences in my final life chapter. I’m now focused on joining the Order of Interbeing as a Zen Christian practitioner and my goal this year is to publish a third book of poetry and a first book for children. Not sure how much longer I might live but want to live my “golden years” doing what I love. How about you?