The middle of 2014 was a difficult time for me both personally and professionally. In addition to serious work aggravations, my aging father became seriously ill, and I had to fly between Seattle and Indiana to help care for him. I know that work and aging parent issues are a struggle that other middle-aged people have and is becoming all too common.
My usually healthy, almost 90 year old father got a blood infection that nearly killed him. Luckily, I have family members who came together to care for him, and after a few months, five doctors, good medical care, and persistence from my former athlete dad, he became well again.
But it was a close call that scared us all. I got to spend some time in the Independent Living facility he resides in, and with his fellow residents who range from age from 70 to a hundred years old.
It gave me a good chance to see what the other side of retirement looks like. Thereâ€™s people in their eighties and nineties who choose to be socially active, walk frequently, or even work out at there on site gym. They eat together, play cards, talk about their families, travel to see their kids, grandkids, volunteer, and do so much more.
The funny thing is that many of these â€œgreatest generationâ€ folks have known each other since birth, having gone to grade school, high school, college, and even WWII together. They even hung out together as families, and many went to the funerals of each otherâ€™s spouses.
At one point during my dadâ€™s illness, I decided that I should move back to my hometown, sell my house in Seattle, and focus on taking care of him. Luckily, my house didnâ€™t sell and my dad was totally against the idea. His independent nature incented him to take care of himself. I learned that he has a support community and can still take care of himself. He didnâ€™t meet need me to move in down the street, and wanted me to live my own life, and I was very grateful for that.
On my last visit during his recovery, his friends and fellow residents approached me to assure me that heâ€™d be fine and they would watch out for him. It was a great relief. I took a moment to thank them, asking them how they enjoyed living at the facility. They looked at each other, smiled and shook their heads.
â€œI donâ€™t know how I ended up here. It seems like just yesterday I was 16, and now Iâ€™m 89. How did that happen?â€
Her comment hit me hard. It wasnâ€™t just about saving money for retirement or even planning for retirement, it was more about living well, and keeping a balance of health, creativity, people, time, money, and priorities.
Age 90 will be here before I know it, and possibly 100 given my lineage.
It was time to start not just reinventing myself, by creating a new life that I enjoyed and helped me be happy, healthy, creative, and financially abundant for all of my years.