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My Turn: My retirement age will be younger tomorrow

When I wake up on Monday mornings, I mean to be young again. You know, start a diet, change my hair color to brazen blond, do exercises for my widening waist.

But then I get interested in the morning news on television or decide to take a drive to the nearby shore. I unfold my chair and sit where I can feel the foam kissing my toes. I close my eyes and listen to the water moving in and out along the beach. Sometimes, I doze. After all, I am retired.

In the afternoon, I stop at the library to see what’s new on the shelves, or I check out the daily paper, which doesn’t cost me anything. Sometimes I look at the want ads and think about the years of “important” telephone calls and letters that “had to get out that day” when I was working nine-to-five. Those things, so paramount at the time, I am incurious about now.

Next, I move on to the supermarket. There was a time, years ago, when this was a place of mourning for me. All my children had grown and gone. There was no longer a large family to cook for. I would pass the bins of large beef roasts, hams and turkeys and feel sad that those days were behind me. Now, I enjoy strolling up and down the aisles, taking my time, knowing that I’ll have no trouble carrying my purchases home in two small bags. I am particular about choosing healthy foods for myself, then, stop at the bakery counter for my reward. After all, I am retired.

After the groceries are put away, I take a walk in the park. The winding lanes are lined with pine trees so tall that, when I strain to see the top of them, I must shade my eyes from the glint of the sun that is setting on them. There is a pond and a sign that says, “Do Not Feed the Ducks,” but people do. Some ducks are gliding along the edge of the water; a mother, a father and three little ones, as if on the way to visit another family across the way.

Couples holding hands pass by; women with earphones jog past in rhythm to their music. Shirtless young men, breathless and fast, run ahead and disappear around a bend in the path. I walk a steady pace and anticipate the evening ahead of me. I start for home thinking of the book I am reading. It is like an old friend. I look forward to the visit, feel wonderful throughout, and sad when that time is over.

And there is television — which is not the bad boy some make it out to be. I choose my programs carefully; a biography, a silly sitcom, just for fun, a classic movie that I can enjoy the second time around. Then there is writing. I write about the past. I write about a situation that has me puzzled. I write poetry or a short story. The act of writing always leaves me balanced, clear and truer to myself.

When I turn the light out on my day I think about the young woman I used to be and promise myself that the next morning will be a new start. I mean to be young again but something always gets in the way.

After all, I am retired.

A. Helen Spataro,

Kings Park

YOUR STORY Letters and essays for MY TURN are original works by readers that have never appeared in print or online. Share special memories, traditions, friendships, life-changing decisions, observations of life, or unforgettable moments for possible publication. Email, or write to Act 2 Editor, Newsday Newsroom, 235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville, NY 11747. Include name, address and phone numbers. Photos if available.

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