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Free Time Finally!

By Becky Pagsibingan

I hear this from some people that I know, working full time, part time, semi retired or fully retired.  This comment refers to, almost always, work, the daily grind, the “I have to” factor. Generally, people work for about at least thirty years of their life, others fifty and mostly retiring at age sixty two to seventy five depending on their life situation.  Those who are still healthy at their advanced age and malakas pa ang tuhod, work even after they are seventy five.  I know of a couple who proudly claim that they do not work for money anymore, but by choice to continue to stay healthy – physically, mentally and be socially active. They could not imagine themselves not dressing up in the morning and driving out of the house.

Well, as people age, they become less competitive at work and do not want to handle stressful responsibilities anymore. Some actually avoid or refuse promotions and others go part time.  With their home mortgage almost paid up or debt-free already, they can now afford luxurious cruises and travels.

When I hear my retired relatives and friends say “free time, finally,” I listen to what they say about their newly found free time in life after being compelled to work for so many years in order to live or raise a family.  Most people retire from work past the midlife term, as the last quarter of life start. It means that when that time comes, office work is formally given up and daily office tasks are permanently withdrawn.

Retirement is viewed in various perspectives, but with the common denominator of feeling “free” at last.  A man would regard retirement as a fresh renewed life and another would see it as getting out of circulation to get a complete body rest, doing nothing. Others would consider it as an opportunity to travel, do recreation and past time activities or hobbies.  Some would take it as chance to be productive and finish up some projects at home.

Retirement recently came to visit my home. My husband, Patrick, had announced that he was retiring.  This was a couple of months ago. Of course, he started telling us of his plan to retire a year ago, but we all took it lightly, after all one year is a long time, yet.  Then, as it came closer, my children and I talked about it.  “What will Daddy do after retirement?” my children asked.  He doesn’t play golf. He is not a handyman.  “He will take care of our front yard. He loves to do gardening,” I said.  “And he will also re-start his body building routines,” I added.  We were all worried that he might become a couch potato, just watch TV and munch on snacks. I promised my children I will not buy chichiria <D>or snacks that will fatten his middle.

So, Thursday, a week aback as of this writing, he reported for work for the last time.  I told him to wear his nice suit and tie.  The general manager of his office told me that they will have an office party for him.  I asked what time. She said, the whole day. She must be kidding me.  Well, I went, and indeed, the party went on the whole day with sandwiches, wraps, cookies, candies, soda, coffee and tea.  I stayed long enough to witness how his customers at the bank openly said they will miss him- his bright smile, friendly demeanor and genuine warm attention that he had accorded them. He got a lot of hugs especially from the elderly ladies and gentlemen.  They also gave him Thank You and Happy Retirement cards, gift cards, dinner cards, flowering plants, wrapped gifts, cookies and chocolates. I heard them talk with the general manager to express their satisfaction with the extraordinary services that my husband gave them and that he will be missed very much.

My goodness, I was touched with what I was seeing and hearing. He was well liked, respected and loved at his place of work and I could not wait to tell my children about it and the nice party for their Dad. He was happy at work! I was wondering if he felt tired of working before retirement.  Did he say, “Free time, finally?”

As a side story, I went to my husband’s office to also present to the general manager, a Plaque of Appreciation for the letting my organization, the Philippine American Foundation for Charities, Inc., use their 3rd floor community hall for meetings , forums and dance practices.  The plaque was presented by yours truly, President of PAFC, and Maurese Owens, the PRO, with a simple office ceremony.

Well, one week has passed and I just let him savor the luxury of not getting up that early from bed. It looks like he is enjoying his free time doing things as he pleases. Right now, he just putters inside the house, probably taking the time to be quiet to deeply contemplate on what he wants to do, something of value later.

There will be no pressure on cleaning up the garage, the storage room or mulching the garden. He has his set ways and is interesting to see if being retired will change some of his set habits. Realistically, there are some adjustments to be made when one is retired and the better half is still working. The retiree becomes self-centered unless actively doing a hobby or project in the house while the one still working continues with the usual household routines. It is most likely that adjustments here and there are in order to make things run smoothly.

Right now I am still working and don’t see myself retiring in the near future.  Well, we shall see.  The only permanent thing in this world is change and my priorities might change as we sail along. I might want to retire in time  to enjoy  the illusive free time to do what I want to do.

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