Sunday, April 04, 2004

Retirement? I think not.

"Just recently, a British journalist, who seemed to have a gift for making mischief where he couldn't find it, asked me if anybody in the BBC had ever asked me to retire and was I going to do so anyway. I said the answer was "no" and "no". I've noticed that if you retire you keel over.

"The day of retirement from this assignment, which was given to me 50 years ago by the BBC official who bore the grand title of Director of the Spoken Word, the day of retirement is up to the Lord of us all, the great timekeeper in the sky, the true Director of the Spoken Word.

Alistair Cooke said this in 1996, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his first broadcast on BBC of his "Letter from America". Cooke died last week, in his 95th year, "just a few weeks after retiring as presenter of the world's longest running speech radio program".

It started me thinking about what we'll be doing for work in Key West, for retirement is not a part of the plan. One doesn't live in Key West on the kind of retirement income we'll have available. More importantly, Cooke's caution is something we've always believed any way. We've gave a lot of thought to the matter and concluded that we can afford to take our time, to wait until arrival, to begin looking for work (and housing). Janet still works full time -- 40 hours -- at the University of New Hampshire. I'm working for pay just a few hours now. I worked in a local camera shop this past summer, only 8-12 hours a week, and I teach in a computers-for-seniors program run at our local adult education agency. I also volunteer as a member of the board of directors of that agency.

I figure that we can do well enough -- afford rent and other living expenses, not have to dip into savings, maybe even add to them -- by Jan staying full time until she reaches Social Security eligibility in a couple of years. Meanwhile, I'm almost at the age when I can go back to earning more without having to sacrifice any of my SS payments. My goal is to limit my "billable hours" to about 20 a week, keeping another 20 aside for volunteer pursuits. I'm thinking adult ed, some tutoring, assistance to the involuntary homeless. Also, the Film Society and the Literary Seminar ought to have some openings for volunteers. I'm anxious to see what the Film Society has done with the old theater on Eaton St., next to St. Paul's.

If there's anything we've learned over our 40+ years together, it is that life goes where it is meant to go. We just try to be ready to go where it takes us and do what it wants us to do.

R.I.P., Mr. Cooke, and thanks for the advice.

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