Part Two: Phases of my unexpected retirement & flexibility
Health was the unexpected reason for my unplanned early retirement. Retirement isn’t necessarily one decision that you live with for the rest of your life. There may be one phase. Or, there may be several phases, each of them enjoyable.
In my post on November 3rd, I described Phases 1 and 2 of the 5 phases of my retirement. I’m recapping my story not because I think it is riveting but because it illustrates how life intervenes and often changes our direction. Even when we plan.
As said before, “Flexibility is the key to happiness.”
To recap, Phase 1 was caused by a health issue. Phase 2 was caused by a need for medical insurance.
Many retirees find themselves in the “Sandwich Situation.” We have adult children with our young grandchildren and 1 or more of our aging parents still living. Oftentimes this creates a situation where we are needed to care for our aging parent(s) and also needed by our adult working children for their children. Hence, “Sandwich Situation.”
My widowed father became our responsibility after my mother passed in Northern California during Phase 2.
My husband and I took dad to Southwest Florida, Phase 3, and we moved into an active adult 55+ community.
We loved our community, made good friends, joined clubs and tennis teams. During the “snowbird season,” October through April, our community population doubles and every weekend is filled with dances or parties, tournaments and card games.
Dad suffered from a form of Alzheimer’s Disease, called Lewy Body Disease. His mental and physical health declined over the next three years and he passed. We sold our house. Next…
We moved to Fort Worth, Texas to be by our daughter and her family. In addition to a desire to be closer to family, we felt we could be of help to them. We were able to help home school their children and help out a little with our son-in-law’s electrical business.
We bought a house in a suburban neighborhood near our daughter and found that creating relationships without work or school ties was much more difficult for retired folks than the years we previously spent in the 55+ community. We loved being by family but they had lives, school and work.
We sold our house and decided to return to our community in snowbird country. As life would have it, before we returned to Florida, we were needed by our son’s family so we detoured to Colorado for three more years with the idea that we would spend part of the year in Florida.
Phase 5 (and the current phase)
After three years, spending part of the year in Colorado and part in Florida and driving 2000 miles each way, we moved permanently to our 55+ community, were welcomed back, rejoined tennis and social groups and settled into full retirement.
Would we do anything differently? Other than skip the ‘Type 1’ Diabetes part altogether, the answer is no. Then we could have lived by a plan we created…but all were rich experiences and we were able to spend concentrated quality time with our parents, children and grandchildren. All in all, an added but unplanned bonus!
When you have an unexpected reason to retire, in the words of singer Carly Simon, you need to “go with the flow and ride with the tide.”
Planning is still the preferred method for starting your retirement. Just wasn’t in the “plan” for us.
Richly aged…and loving life!