Ah retirement, that glorious moment in our lives that we all dream of. The right of passage that takes us from the working world into a well earned carefree moment in time that we haven’t seen since we were little kids. Freedom. The part of our life when we sit back, do whatever we want and say: “This is what it’s all about”. Peace and tranquility.
When my husband and I were teenagers, madly in love, we dreamt about the days when we’d retire and spend every moment together. Mind you, we still had a couple of years of high school to finish. We obviously had no permanent jobs to retire from but we dreamt about the perks of retirement. Mostly he did. He would say he couldn’t wait to retire so we could lay in bed all day making love. He was a horny teenager and I was a girl madly in love so it sounded wonderful. Occasionally, his mind would retreat from the bedroom bliss and he’d tell me that he would take me anywhere I wanted to go when we retired. Neither of us are adventurous so he could get away with promises like that because he knew we’d never do any of it. Ha, ha. When it came down to it, just being together was enough for us. Oh, the innocence of youth.
Throughout our marriage, a couple of times a week, he’d tell me how he couldn’t wait to retire just so he could stay home with me. He’d tell me he couldn’t wait to make me breakfast every morning and treat me like the queen I was. I didn’t ask for that role, he gave it to me. And you know what, over time (within a day actually ha, ha) I embraced my queendom.
As the years grew closer to retirement, we started to wonder if it would ever become a reality. I assumed we’d have to work until our dying day. As luck would have it, God intervened and made the impossible possible. I was the first to retire. The Archdiocese made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, and so I accepted their offer. I ended my job in June, went through my usual summer vacation and was thrilled when back to school rolled around, and I no longer had to wake up at 4:30 am to get ready for work. My hubby liked that he didn’t have to wake up and drive me to work at 6:30 am anymore. He was a little jealous that he couldn’t stay in bed with me (he was still a teenager at heart) but I assured him that one day his dream of retiring with me would happen and we’d live out the remainder of our lives as he always wanted. In bed. Let the man hold on to his dream. Ha, ha.
At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d adapt to being home 24/7. What was I gonna do? Oh yeah, I forgot. I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. And so I did. I got together with friends, caught up on my reading, took up a passion for writing, spent time with my granddaughters and got back into some of my stenciling and redecorating pastimes. I started to enjoy cooking again and for the most part, was enjoying the peace and quiet retirement brought with it. When I didn’t want to do anything, I did just that. Nothing. I hoped that before too long, my husband would be able to retire and share in my tranquility. I missed him not being home with me. Careful what you wish for.
I had embraced this retirement thing, and it was good. It was peaceful, blissful and free from stress. Retirement was a taste of heaven. One day, as I was basking in my two years of retirement, my husband informed me that his bosses were selling the business, and he was opting to retire instead of looking for another job. I was happy for him. He was ecstatic. His dream of being with me all the time was about to happen. He was gonna be with me all the time. All the time he’d be with me. 24/7 he was gonna be with me. He was gonna be with me 24/7. Oh crap, that can’t be good. Sure, I wanted him around but 24/7? Dear God, what are You thinking? I may never make it to heaven if you let him retire. Little did I know that God was already up at the pearly gates laughingly removing my name from the entry roster. He knew with both of us retired, I didn’t stand a chance of ever seeing heaven. I think that’s why He gave me those two years of bliss. They were a tease. lol
The hubby’s first day of retirement came with a twinkle in his eye. His boyhood dreams were becoming a reality. He looked at me with his crooked smile and lovingly said: “Debsy, it’s finally here. We’re both retired. Now we can stay in bed all day and I can kiss you anytime I want”. Oh, happy, happy, Joy, Joy. Kiss me quick, I got things to do. Okay, maybe I gave in a little bit, a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do but not for long. I’ll admit, the first few weeks I enjoyed having him home. While I might have crushed his dreams of staying in bed all day, he realized there was more to retirement than just lying in bed. There were things to do. We decided to do some long-awaited projects around the house.
Retirement with him wasn’t so bad. At first. Not only were we getting projects done but he was serving me breakfast in bed every day. He was making lunches and dinners too. He likes to keep busy, so cooking became one of his missions. In other words, he was slowly taking over my kitchen. My kitchen was becoming unfamiliar ground to me. All my organizational skills and pride in telling people exactly where something was, had now become a game of hide and seek. On the rare occasions that I was permitted to make a meal, I’d have to first figure out where he’d put things. Asking him where something was became a stress injector. He never knew where he put anything. If he found a place for something, there something went. After my searching was over, and I was ready to make a meal. He would stand over me and critique what I was doing. Why you using this? I use that! Don’t cut like that, cut like this. Listen, buddy, in about two minutes I’m gonna show you my expertise in using my knife and it ain’t gonna be pretty. lol. Did he forget that I was cooking for over fifty years? I think I know what to do. Some of you may be wondering why I don’t just give in and let him cook. Isn’t it a dream to have a man who wants to serve you. Sure it is, but here’s the thing, I like to eat my meals at normal meal times. THERE ARE NO LONGER NORMAL MEAL TIMES in our household. We eat whenever. Here’s what happens: early morning wake up. Hubby says he’s gonna make breakfast now. Turns on TV. Starts watching the news. Then Kelly and Ryan. (Where’s breakfast?) Goes downstairs anywhere between 9-10am. Turns kitchen TV on. Gets sidetracked watching cable shows. Finally brings breakfast up sometime before 11 am. I’ve already started my day but her royal highness is not permitted to enter the kitchen while the court jester is preparing to serve her so she waits until he’s ready to serve. As I indicated, the jester has no time frame. lol. After breakfast is served, I have to rate his meal. He wants me to rate everything a ten, but I’m an honest queen. If things aren’t to my liking, I let it be known. It’s one of my queenly perks. That usually bursts his bubble. I thank him for serving me (his breakfasts are always good, I just like teasing him). He asks if I want lunch, I say no. He brings me lunch.
Dinner time is always fun. I tell him I’ll make dinner. He says, he will. He wins. He asks what I’d like, I tell him. He says he was gonna make something else. Why ask what I want? He’s been watching cooking shows, so he wants to make me what the chef’s made. Sweet, I know. Except for one thing, he never has what the chefs are making and if it ain’t on sale, he ain’t buying it. So, he opts to make up his own concoctions. At around 4 pm, he lets me know that he’s gonna start preparing dinner. He gets his thoughts together as to how he’ll prepare his version of a gourmet meal. Those thoughts lead him outside, where he will pick up his pruning shears, and start pruning things that don’t need pruning. That leads him to surveying the property, which has him grabbing a paintbrush and can of paint and painting a little something here and nothing that needs to be painted over there. If he’s lucky, some poor soul might pass by that he can strike up a conversation with. It doesn’t matter if he knows them or not. He’ll talk and talk and talk. Sometimes people will stop by to say a quick hello and when they had enough they’ll retreat to their car in hopes of escape. He’ll keep them there until they start to back out and he’ll hold on to their car and won’t let them go. I watch in wonderment. After they escape he usually says: “They can talk”. Really! It is now somewhere around 6:30 pm and I say I’ll start dinner. No, no, no he insists on doing it. I retreat away from the kitchen. As he enters the kitchen a melody will pop in his head and he’ll quickly go to jot it down. That leads to playing the piano which leads to recording the song. 8pm he yells into me that dinner will be served in 5 minutes. He hasn’t even started it yet. But wait, something else is on TV. Another sidetrack. 9-930pm, he says to come down in 15 minutes. Is it for dinner or breakfast? I’m too confused to know what meal it is. Like the movie Groundhog Day, I find myself in the same scenario day after day. Fortunately, though, God has been sending music jobs the hubby’s way which gets him out of my way (I mean gives him something else to do). Ha, ha. So while the cats away, this mouse takes care of business. I sneak into my kitchen and prepare our meals. I relax. I embrace my short-lived tranquil moments. And then he’s back, asking why I made dinner. He wanted to make it.
In addition to his expertise in cooking, he decided that he would now do the shopping. No need for Peapod. I had him. And he knew how to look for bargains. Something he’s quite proud of. I never know what he’ll bring home but if it’s on sale, it’s mine. If there’s a coupon even better. One time he brought home cat food that was on sale, and he found a coupon for. WE DON’T OWN A CAT, but it was on sale. He wasn’t gonna waste the coupon. lol
Then, of course, there’s the laundry issue. Why do I do so much laundry? I don’t know. I like clean clothes, clean towels, clean sheets. From why do I do so much laundry, we go into him turning off fans, lights and lowering heat in the winter. We’re not related to Con Edison, you know. Of course, music is on in his studio, on the back porch, and in the garage for his listening pleasure. Music is His American Express Card. He never goes anywhere without it. Con Edison must be free for that. lol. Sometimes, when I look at my hubby, I see his father. Clearly, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. His dad drove his mom crazy too.
Following me into every room, I seek refuge in it is a favorite pastime of his. Why? I don’t know. Maybe he thinks I have men hiding around the house. I have him to drive me crazy, the last thing I need is more men. lol I say I’m going upstairs 5 minutes later he walks in. I say I need to reflect, he starts talking. I ask God to prevent me from a Pearl Harbor attack on this man. Fortunately for him, God hears my plea. He exits room only to return an hour later to say he misses me. I’m either engrossed in writing, meditating, playing dead or watching a movie. Not only does he disturb my peace but he starts to talk about whatever pops into his head. If I am watching a movie on CD, he rewinds it because he missed something. THAT’S BECAUSE HE TALKS CONSTANTLY DURING THE FILM. How can he possibly hear anything? Did I mention when he rewinds the movie it ends up at the beginning again? Oh yeah, watching movies with him is an experience.
Just thinking about retirement with the hubby makes me quiver, and not in the way I did as a teenager. He seems to have the ability to get my Parkinsons, AKA Auginsons (appropriately named after my husband for obvious reasons,) into an all-new level of shake, rattle and roll. Ha, ha.
In a nutshell, and I mean that literally because he drives me nuts, retirement with this man is quite entertaining. Every day with him is an experience and a test of … well, everything. If I can survive his being home (survive being a crucial factor), then I can make it through anything. Ha, ha. Aside from my Auginsons flare up every time he stresses me out, I have to say that it’s an adventure sharing retirement with him. It took me from my solo retirement heaven and brought me to a glimpse of hell were I’ll be residing should I decide to do him in. That’s a joke, people. I’d never do him in. His insurance policy isn’t that much. It’s all in humor which is part of my MO for survival. These days we all need some humor to survive. Besides, I don’t do well in the heat and from what I’ve been told, it’s pretty hot down in hell. Women who are in the same situation I’m in know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s an understood sisterhood we share in.
The hubby and I are definitely made for each other. God took us from the misfits pile and fit us together perfectly. While retirement may not have turned out exactly as the 16-year-olds planned, it turned out pretty good. I couldn’t think of anyone else that I’d rather be driven crazy by then this piece of work that God put in my life. For better or worse, we are in it together and that makes it all worthwhile. I know I pick on him but he is the best gift God gave me. All that I have, friendships, kids, grandkids are mine because of him. He is good-hearted, a PITA, a man of extreme talent and the love of my life. He makes me laugh and pull my hair out. Of course, his life would have been incomplete without me. Peaceful I’m sure, but incomplete. Ha, ha.
The purpose for me sharing my retirement story with you is this: I have a brother-in-law who married into the Arace Clan like I did. To this day he blames me for his agony. Whenever I see him, he looks at me and says: “I blame you! You were the first to marry into this family and you didn’t warn me”. So now that I am the first to retire in “la famiglia” I am letting it be known to my brother-in-law Mike and every other up and coming retiree out there, you have been warned. Retirement with your spouse is not for the weak. They will drive you crazy! You will want to run far, far away. Hang in there people, you will make it through. I think. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you that retirement ain’t what you thought it would be. This is written proof that I did.
Of course, my hubby may have a different story to tell but those of you who know us both know that my version is the truth. 🤪
Married 44 years to my hubby whose purpose in life is to prevent me from getting through the “Pearly Gates”. Mother of two, Nanna of four loving granddaughters and retired secretary aka administrative assistant. I went to the University of Hard Knocks where I received my Doctorate. My thesis is titled: How To Survive Life’s Trials Without Killing Yourself or Someone Else. I live by the belief that when life throws you a curve, learn from it rather than use it against yourself. Faith and humor are my survival kit. Appreciate the simple things for they are the true treasures of life.