In the United Methodist parishes I served near Fort Leonard Hood, Missouri, we had congregations of good people where the majority were over 65 years of age.
I still cherish and remember fondly these dedicated people. They included Luther and Beth, retired medical doctors from South Africa; and Mary, the 30-year church treasurer and retired school teacher who chose to remain single but assisted nieces and nephews with college expenses. They include Ida, who lived in HUD housing and at the age of 80 passed on. She was a source of sunshine though “as poor as Job’s turkey.” Upon her demise, she deeded to the church her one source of passing the time: a record player and a set of 78 rpm records.
These dedicated Christians and residents of the small community, even in retirement, brought hope to their neighbors, and especially their pastor. Also, 50% of this congregation had earned BA or MA degrees. I officiated at the burials of some of them in my eight years as their pastor, friend, confidant and counselor.
On this day, though, my pleasant memories are of how at their ages they were a blessing to both church and community. They are still my role models for productivity in retirement. In our retirement years we too can be a source of encouragement to our neighbors, family, friends, and especially grandchildren. Upon my departure, I believe my daughters and five grandchildren will be imprinted with good by my entire life, but especially with the positive things I did in my own retirement.
I have been retired from the US Army for 22 years, and from the United Methodist Church for 10 years. This phase of my life has been enriching.
How can we enrich our lives while in retirement? One principle to implement for immediate benefit is a conscientious attention to your state of health. At any cost, have regular medical check-ups; in other words, don’t neglect your health. Medicare encourages retirees toward a decision to prolong our lives. Seventy-year-olds are in need of preventive care just as much as a 40-year-old. In these closing months and years of life, it is wise not to neglect your physical, psychological and emotional well-being. My own program of preventive health care includes regular eye exams and dental care. Select your care providers carefully, and follow through on your appointments. As I write this I am reminded of an upcoming appointment with an optometrist for a six-month exam. Cataracts or other diseases of eyesight in aging won’t sneak up on me unknowingly.
I am also reminded as I write this narrative of our very own Cassie, a 16-year-old Pug. Over the years she has been a delightful companion and a source of joy to us. I see her health declining now; she is partially blind now. In these closing days of life she still has regular appointments with her vet, Dr. Tina Winn.
Preventive care in retirement is beneficial no matter how much longer we live.
I am satisfied with the publicity that medical care for everyone is getting from our politicians. I desire for everyone the extended medical care that I have had under Medicare and Tricare Prime. I appreciate the goal of Senator Barack Obama on medical care. He convincingly states his plan for all Americans to have similar health care to that of our representatives in Congress. To this proposal, I sing “Amen, Amen, Amen!”
More about our retirement years in next weeks’ Sunday article. Meanwhile, make and keep an appointment with your health care provider.