Easing Along

Retirement Plan in Place – Then Comes a Gentle Wake Up Call.

Our 35 year old freezer

Our 35 year old freezer

Our retirement plan came straight out of the many guidebooks that we had read leading up to the big day.  We had met with the financial people and received solid advice.  We had downsized our living situation to one we were comfortable with and could manage for much, if not all, of our Golden Years. We had planned and budgeted for a big trip to celebrate and decompress a bit while Joe adjusted to a new routine.  (See previous Easin’ Along posts for trip info). We had projects to putter over, books to babble about, and music to mumble the words to.  We were set.

Throughout the guidebooks and the advisor meetings there is one consistent piece of advice…always plan for the unexpected. Well…the unexpected came quickly enough, and it was a wake up call…fortunately a gentle one.

We returned home after being on a wonderful five week journey along the east coast of our beautiful country and began the process of establishing a daily routine. For Helen this was no big deal.  Within hours of waking on the first day back, she was planning a week that included Bible study, pottery class, exercise class, lunch with friends, choir practice, and an occasional kiss blown in my direction.

For me, the script was totally different. I stared at the walls for most of a week.  To be sure, the fact that I had done the majority of the driving for five weeks presented a need for a little down time, but the most pressing need was for some structure…the question arose “What is my daily routine?”.

I have had a  “real job” ever since I was umpiring Little League Baseball games at age 15. Now,  52 years later, I found myself confronting life as a healthy 67 year old man no longer in the work force, and with only a few interests that could pass for hobbies. I was unsure I was passionate enough about any causes or charities to volunteer my time to them and, not yet ready to take off on another road trip adventure. What was apparent was that the answer to what comprised my daily routine wasn’t going to jump out of the walls surrounding me in the man cave.

Knowing that I’m among many in the first wave of Baby Boomers forced to face this dilemma, I want to explore the subject of structure in our lives within future posts of Easin’ Along.  As stated earlier, Easin’ Along is not intended as a “how to” for retirement. There are already several million of those out there. We’re simply going to approach the Golden Years on a slow walk and see where the need for structure and a daily routine takes us. Knowing myself, and the few interests I have at present, my structure will probably have a foundation based on Fun, Food, and the Fundamentals of Faith and Family. We will have a small touch of Finance inserted on occasion whenever lessons learned about money and planning work their way into, and become a part of, the structure of life and a daily routine. My hope is that others with join us on this Slow Walk and let us know what activities give structure to your life and how you work them into a comfortable routine. Post your comments, so we can share them here.  It will be fun.

Now, about that gentle wake up call….

On the second day back from our trip, we decided that we should give ourselves a “welcome home” present of a big spaghetti dinner. This really is a treat, because Helen makes a sauce that is world class scrumptious.  She prepares it in large quantities in an oversize soup kettle and then freezes it in dinner size portions.  We call it “BeBe’s Beefy Spaghetti Sauce”.  Cute, huh?

Spaghetti Sauce recipe

Spaghetti Sauce recipe

I went out to the garage and opened our freezer to grab a container.  I noticed that the sauce was still frozen, but a little soft. I turned the temperature down a notch and reminded myself to check again the next day.

By the next morning, it was apparent that the freezer had taken on a “death rattle” and was close to expiring.  By that afternoon, a bugle sounding taps would have been in order…the freezer had died. Thankfully, the freezer waited for us to return home rather than conk out four weeks earlier.

This wasn’t supposed to happen.  We had taken that dependable old Sears freezer for granted for over 35 years.  It had purred along every day of those years without so much as a hiccup.  I still have the original invoice from when it was delivered in 1980.

Original invoice

Original invoice

This appliance had cradled popsicles for the kids, fish we had caught, deer somebody else had shot, and leftovers from food we had tried once (but never again). There had been ice cream sorted by the flavor, chicken sorted by parts, and bread sorted by date. We even kept packages of Southern Beaten Biscuits that an aunt gave us for Christmas one year and we handed out as gag gifts to the family for many years thereafter.  It was always good for great laughter.

I would venture a guess that no one has specific plans for a dead freezer. The freezer just quits working and you deal with it as you choose, then move on. Nevertheless, this was a wake up call we needed…nothing lasts forever, and part of any plan calls for a plan for the unexpected. The loss of the freezer was a subtle, yet sudden event that helped us to focus on the fact that unexpected things do happen and that we need to be prepared for them.  Fortunately this was only a freezer and not a fire or an automobile accident that was not adequately covered by insurance, or even worse, an illness affecting a loved one. Yes, our 35 year old, very dependable freezer, made us focus a little more intently on the need for contingencies in the future.

As for moving on, we agreed that we had to have another freezer. We also agreed that we could do with a smaller size.  After all, space was at a premium after downsizing to a smaller home, and we needed some room in the garage for the bicycles.

After a little research I discovered that September was a great month for a freezer to stop working because they were on sale at Home Depot for the entire month.  I went to the store and picked out one that was a perfect size for the garage. I paid the reduced sales price minus the much appreciated discount that Home Depot gives to active and retired Army veterans. The very helpful sales clerk made arrangements for delivery as well as the pickup and disposal of the old freezer. Done!

Uncrating new freezer

Uncrating new freezer

Two days later and the space for the new purchase readied, the delivery truck arrived right on time. There were two deliverymen, but only one got out of the truck. This prompted a raised eyebrow because I was curious as to how one person could manage a freezer by himself.  I then learned that freezers have shed a lot of weight in 35 years and this one was light as a feather compared to our old friend.

New freezer put in place

New freezer put in place

The new one was put in place and the old one carted out and loaded on the truck. I waved to it as it was driven out of sight.

Old freezer removed

Old freezer removed

Silently, I paid tribute to an old friend for its many years of dependable service and for a job well done .  Even though we don’t have as much room as we once did for ice cream, we’re now a bit more focused on having a plan for whatever comes next.

Goodbye old friend.

Goodbye old friend.

 

It’s all part of Easin’ Along.

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3 thoughts on “Retirement Plan in Place – Then Comes a Gentle Wake Up Call.

  1. Suzanne Kear

    After having several leaks in my plumbing since last winter, each costing about $200, I was told that my 30+ year old house with copper pipes had pitting areas in many spots that would probably continue to give me grief. Therefore, $1000 later( a friend is a plumber or it would have been more), I had all the pipes replaced. I would have never expected this to come up, so Merry Christmas to me and reduced budget for gifts this year for those on my list. Thankfully I had listened to my son and paid off my house and all major things after Steve died. Andy’s advice to me before I retired had been not to worry so much about my income in retirement. Just pay off as much as possible and then the income wouldn’t have to be stretched thin every month so there would be money for these unexpected events. It comes in handy having smart kids😊. You and Helen have a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas. I am trying to get over this back surgery so that I am able to enjoy my new granddaughter coming in February and also the reunion next year 😄 Suzanne

    1. jobruner01 Post author

      I agree that smart kids are a blessing! I told them that all I wanted out of them was just be sure to change my diapers some day lol! Take care of that back, we look forward to seeing you next October.

  2. Donna Gentry Wess

    Joe, followed your trip but missed out on the blog. Now I am catching up. Seems freezers do go out, especially when you run into the one in the garage with your car. Our Sears was over 40 years old. Not yet retiring but planning on certain things that must be done. We probably won’t down size any time soon, since about two blocks from son and 3 soon to be 4 grandchildren here in Memphis. We are trying to identify those potential emergencies and get done before retirement, new roof, exterior painted, etc. There is a gigantic tree in the front yard that will probably take a crane to remove,,,,counting our nickels for that since still living–us and the tree. The issue of structure will be there for Mike and for me, though he has Wednesdays off and 1/2 day Friday to play golf–definitely a passion for him. Me, I have learned to can and dehydrate, especially to avoid additives that can harm my brother’s kidneys. I love apologetics and biblical archaeology. As we ease on down this road, to eternity, glad to know will have many friends to look over the road map. God Bless.

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