Retirement May Have “Drastic” Effect On Health

What a love story! On March 17th the Baltimore Sun printed a touching, heart warming story. It was in the obituary section.

At the age of 91 and after a wonderful marriage of 67 years, Austin Twigg III and his wife Mary passed away within 48 hours of one another. At the time of their deaths they occupied separate rooms at St. Agnes Hospital in southwest Baltimore. Austin died of pneumonia and Mary of congestive heart failure on March 6th and 8th, respectively.

According to a daughter, “he was determined to stay on the earth as long as she was there. He didn’t want to leave her.”

Through 67 years of marriage they shared a love of books and museums. Late in life they were constant companions. But actually Austin was Mary Twigg’s second husband, as she had been widowed at the age of 22 with one child and another on the way. At her mother’s urging, and after quite a period of grieving, Mary went to the Arthur Murray Dance Studio to learn to dance and have some fun. There she met her future husband who was a dance instructor. He swept her off her feet and the rest is history.

Their family eventually grew to six children, whom they raised in a very modest Catonsville, MD neighborhood. Austin sold cars for the local Chevrolet dealership for a period of time, but spent most of his career in the community newspaper business. Mary spent 35 years, first as a teacher, then as executive director of the Dickeyville Day Nursery School which was not far from their home.

That’s the Twigg’s story……..

What will Suzanna’s and mine be, what will yours be?

I wonder if some of my readers have the same reaction to the Twiggs’ story that we did. After reading the obituary we turned to one another and said “Wow. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could have a story similar to that of the Twiggs? Twenty more years of happy life, happy marriage, and then pass together. Sweet!”

Realistically, of course, we cannot do anything to achieve the latter. But the former, twenty more years of happy, healthy life and marriage,  is well worth our focus and our effort. It is precisely the reason I am trying my best to “do my retirement well”, and to create a happy, healthy “lemonade retirement”for myself.

For many of us, and certainly this includes me, this is far easier said than done. In fact, the Institute of Economic Affairs concluded in a recent study that retirement’s impact on health can be “drastic.” In the context of their study, “drastic” can be positive or negative. When retirement affects our health negatively it often begins as depression. The study purports that retirement increases the likelihood of clinical depression by 40%.

Two years into my retirement I actually feel that I have walked on both sides of the street on the issue of retirement having a positive or negative effect on my health.

I began my retirement by feeling fairly lost.

My identity admittedly was tied to my work for the entirety of my 46 years in business. Also, out of necessity I put so much into my work, I didn’t have time to pursue many other interests. This became a problem once retired. After retiring I really missed the structure work gave to my life. Although I got back into regular exercise, and picked up reading and writing the blog, I still usually felt that something was missing. I also got hung up wondering how long we would live and whether our savings would last. Focusing on this has been an embarrassing waste of time. Between my faith that God has it all covered and a calm, sober review of our total picture, it is clear all will be well financially.

Nonetheless put it all together and I think I may have been at least borderline depressed. But I feel like things are much more positive for me now, and that the pendulum has clearly swung almost all the way back in a positive position.

As I indicated I exercise consistently. And besides reading and writing the blog, I have really been able to invest much more time into relationships. That includes my relationship with Suzanna  and with my, and our, friends. Suzanna and I spend more time together than ever.  This seems to have made a very good marriage even better. We also have plenty of alone time as well as time for our own friends. It’s been great!

And so I think I’m doing much better with my “lemonade retirement”. I’m not totally there yet, but I’m no longer feeling that my retirement is going to have a negative effect on my health. By continuing to work at it, I hope one day to say that retirement has had a “drastic” effect on my health…..in a positive way!