For me, it all started in July 1976. A graduate of Dowling College, I took my bachelor’s degree in business administration to the business world. I had accepted a management trainee position with Abraham & Straus, which was then renowned for their world-class executive training program. Of course, my belief then was to be 40 years and done, and sent on my way with a gold watch and a pat on the back.
Little did I know that it was the beginning of an adventure that would go 40 years all told, and eventually take me to new frontiers in the fashion industry with such names as Lord & Taylor, Tommy Hilfiger, and Van Heusen. In addition I had no clue that my merchandising career would take me on the world stage to 38 different countries along with 2.2 million frequent flier miles.
Retirement was a distant thought because, along the way, one’s thought process is that it is so far off. Well, surprise how time catches up with you. While globe-trotting, my wife, Jill, and I were raising our three children in Islip as I was making trips on the LIRR to New York City each day, two hours each way. Retirement? Well at least the 401(k) was building.
And then one day you find yourself on the home stretch, your body telling you things you never anticipated, your hair beginning to become gray and disappearing at the same time and you find yourself wondering how much of those Social Security contributions you are going to see after all. And then one day, you find yourself being relegated to a museum by your last employer, no gold watch and a faint “Thank Ya Dude” and all the new fun begins.
Truth be told, I looked forward to retirement for about five years prior, and after convincing Jill we no longer needed the big house, we decluttered and downsized a bit to our retirement condo in Eastport. Further out in the country so to speak, new home, and still close enough to our grown children along with our new granddaughter whom we are enjoying immensely. For me no more 6 a.m. alarm clock, no more LIRR commute. Finally, people I can watch from the window mowing the lawn or shoveling snow. Pure Nirvana, it all paid off.
No couch potato here, perhaps I’ll get a part-time job for the town checking beach passes followed up with some baby sitting, and booking some more cruises.
I guess the little sign that was been hanging in our bedroom is finally coming full circle. It reads: “Come grow old with me, the best is yet to be.”
So in the end, Retirement: Bravo, Eureka, Magnificent, Let it snow, Grandchildren, and of course when in doubt, BOOK A CRUISE. My friends call me The Captain, and its been my pleasure sharing retirement thoughts with you.