Life in Retirement: What if someone else’s retirement impacts us?

Okay, so maybe I’m a bit self-absorbed. I’ve been reflecting on retirement and finding fulfillment and preparing for the big change, all from the first-person perspective. How the choices YOU make throughout YOUR transition can help create a rewarding retirement for YOURSELF. But, what happens when your life is impacted by OTHER people’s retirement?

By now we’ve all surely experienced the letting go of familiar and trusted medical professionals. My dentist is my nephew’s age and, despite how calm and competent he is, at first I missed the scent of the disinfectant soap from the big wrinkled hands of my former dentist. Until I remembered that those old hands were also getting kind of shaky and the new dentist has such a great demenour, a modern clinic, a steady hand. And he doesn’t bring out the old cardboard box to offer me a tiny treasures for being a good patient (my old dentist was old-fashioned through his whole career). My new dentist gives me travel size toothpaste and dental floss, which is perfect for my retirement travel plans.

So I guess that example isn’t a very good one, since I’m quite happy with the progression of time that lead to my current dentist. What really got me thinking about the impact of other people’s retirement was the recent departure of three or four radio hosts from the station I have listened to for decades. These are longstanding, respected people who talked about my favourite things – books and interesting people and events. Radio is so personal – we invite these people into our homes, we wake up to their voices and drift off to sleep listening to them each day. Well, I do, anyway. I realize that most people’s listening habits are likely a bit more well-rounded than mine.

My reality is that I listen to talk radio pretty much exclusively, interspersed with one CD in my car that I switch to when they’re talking about something that doesn’t interest me. The same CD stays primed in the dashboard deck, sometimes for several years. Anne Murray’s duets CD held longstanding time in the deck. After that was a Canadian rock band that my daughter brought ‘on deck’, but we can’t speak of them anymore since they disbanded and the front man is doing time. Currently my choice is revisiting Bob Marley, and what a soft place to land!

All this to say, I’m pretty committed to talk radio and get far too attached to some of the hosts, and then get sad when they leave. Is that why some people hesitate to retire themselves, that they’re considering the impact on other people’s worlds when they leave? I mean, I made thorough transition plans and continue to work a bit each week in order to see some projects to their conclusion, but I didn’t really consider how anyone else felt. I’m pretty sure some people miss me, but I’m equally sure that they carried on without missing a beat.

Unlike me, who listens to farewell episodes of my dear radio hosts and feel like I’m at a funeral. What will become of me without them? There’s no one who can ever take their place. But, then, the show ends and I switch the radio off and carry on with my day. New hosts will bring their great ideas to that spot or, if not, there are hundreds of other old CDs on deck. We do carry on through all the leavings, and what fun it is to be the one moving on! It’s nice to allow yourself that at one point in life, no matter how much people rely on your work. After all, every hand gets a bit shaky at some point. There’s a time for all of us to hang up the latex gloves.

Sandy Bexon is stepping into retirement after over 35 years as a communications professional, reporter and writer. She lives in Red Deer.

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