With Senior’s week coming up, I thought I’d spend some time getting to know some of the retired folk who live in our area. I began by taking myself to join an aqua aerobics class.
Can I tell you, I had the best time! The ladies from the aqua class had me in stitches. The classes are so popular I had to arrive an hour early just to reserve my spot for the day. The waiting time was not wasted though as I joined a group of retirees around the tables in the playground who kindly allowed me to join in on their catch up. The conversation exposed some very funny (albeit cheeky) characters as well as those who were happy to sit and be entertained by them.
Amidst all the laughing, I found these women to be a treasure-trove full of years of stories from lives lived so differently yet all culminating in this one location for a social activity.
Previous to retirement, some of the ladies had worked in retail, managing fashion boutiques and large variety stores. A couple of them had spent their years as public servants with their finger on the pulse, involved in processes of decision-making that could make a difference to the direction of our nation. I met an ex-nurse, an ex-early learning educator and a lady gifted in making and creating beautiful knitted crafts and clothing.
Yet in this space, they all had this in common; they had lived their stages of life through childhood, marriage, motherhood, careers and what not, and were now adjusting to the slower paced life of retirement.
For some the change to retirement was easy. They relish the freedom of not having to work. It is now their time to enjoy life with no restrictions. Having done the hard years it is time to reap the reward. Their lives now include travelling to places previously only dreamed about, finally having money to spend on themselves, eating out, movies and socialising.
“It’s great!” said one woman who obviously loves her new life, “at this age you don’t worry about keeping up with the Joneses or peer pressure or anything like that. It’s a great age to be.”
For others new to retirement, there seems to be some struggle in letting go of the routine and the feeling of still belonging to their pre-retirement life. The search for new activities and purposes on which to build this new phase of life has only just begun.
Some had moved into a season of being available to help with grandchildren while the parents of these children are working to keep food on the table or struggling with illness. These ladies see their opportunities as a blessing and are grateful that they now have the time to invest into their grandchildren and create life-long memories together.
Such a plethora of stories and situations all so relevant and indicative of the age we live in.
As I completed the last 10 minutes of the aqua class, I could feel my muscles working and tiring. “I think I could use a Nanna-nap,” I grinned to myself. I turned to glance at the 83 year old lady standing next to me, still giving it her all. She had lost her husband only a year ago, and was the oldest person in the class. She had a smile on her face, a bounce in her step and a sparkle in her eye.
“I hope I’m doing aqua aerobics classes when I’m your age,” I said to her.
“You just have to keep going,” was her reply.
Good advice for us all.
Originally published in The Good Life Magazine – Winter 2016 edition
Photo credit: Cartia Moore