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My Turn: Wiser and happier in retirement

James E. Carson of East Islip with his

James E. Carson of East Islip with his wife, Mary, and their 10 grandchildren, around whom his retirement is built. Photo Credit: Handout

One of my favorite "rules" is the 80/20 rule. It means that most things hold themselves to be the case 80 percent of the time, and the other 20 percent of the time, they are not.

There actually are not too many 100 percent rules. In all the things I hear from other retirees, 80 percent loved their jobs, their work was so very important to their everyday happiness and sense of personal identity. Retirement was actually a thing to be feared. So I am/was in the 20 percent group: I worked in the insurance business for 40 years. It was just a job that provided income for my family, and I did not identify with it.

It was mostly boring, humdrum tedium that I would get through every day, looking forward to coming home each evening to be with the family and enjoy all the things and people I worked for.

Every morning was a hassle to get up and get to work. Weekends, holidays and vacations came around all too infrequently and passed us by so quickly we could hardly notice them, only to be faced by interminable weeks of drudgery. But, hey, that was me. For me, the most important thing is to feel good. If I feel good on a particular day, I can do and am up for most anything. If I happen not to feel so good that day, well .?.?.

We have four married daughters and 10 grandchildren. The goal was always that the children should do better in life than we did, and that appears to be the case. Having four terrific sons-in-law is the best; it is more like having younger brothers than sons, who seek your counsel and then make their own final decisions.

But here is the main thing in retirement: I am a much different person now than when I was younger and working. I was so stupid, it is amazing that I survived all those years intact. But now, as a mature person, I can be more relaxed and thoughtful in action than I used to be.

The most important thing now is the standing of the grandchildren. To be a teacher of children is not the same as being an instructor. An instructor expostulates his/her views to others, with most (80/20) not even being heard and certainly not listened to.

A teacher on the other hand provides example. In everything we do as mature people around our grandchildren, they become imbued with the life lessons we have to provide. It is mostly attitude and approach that we can exhibit, so much in contrast to the values and lessons of today's society.

One great lesson is our ability to be quiet, not to have pounding noise about us every waking moment. That we are mild in our study of the world and appreciative of its beauty and wonder; that although we know many things, we have so much more to learn and are willing to listen and observe so that we can learn more; that you can be with someone else and not consult a cellular phone; that a person can hold a conversation without the repetitious use of the conjunctive words "really, awesome, cool, great and you know"; that to learn is to enrich our lives and become a more interesting person, both to others and also to ourselves.

I seek our grandchildren out to be with them. Soon enough they will "outgrow" us in the vibrancy of independence. But in the meantime, it seems we get along famously.

--James E. Carson, East Islip


At the ripe age of 71, after working at the same job for 50 years and married 48 years to my beautiful wife, I retired on Sept. 27. I am ready to open the next chapter in my life.

We raised three beautiful children who are married and blessed us with eight gorgeous grandchildren. My wife retired a few years ago. We lived in a huge house and paid high taxes just to be in a good school district where our kids got a great education. Two years ago, we downsized to a gated community where just about everything is taken care of.

We are fortunate enough to both be healthy and plan to enjoy retirement life together. We plan on taking some educational classes and travel to places where we have never been. I have hobbies like chess, the stock market, reading, and I plan on taking some art courses. Even though I do not play golf like many of my friends do, I have no desire to learn. I definitely have enough things to do to keep me busy. And, if that's not enough, my wife will surely find things for me to do.

But best of all, we will be spending time with my family and grandchildren. We look forward to watching them growing up and sharing with them all their accomplishments right here on Long Island and in New York City. We do not plan to move to Florida. We love the hot and cold weather. Retirement will be great, and I am ready to witness every graduation and to be around to kiss and smile when I see my grandchildren's performances.

This is an exciting chapter, and I can't wait to turn these pages.

--Martin Blumberg, Melville


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