Thinking today about all of the losses that occur as we age, retire, and slide into our final stages of life. Transitioning from childhood into adulthood is traumatic enough. We find new friends, but we lose old ones. We might go to college, in which case we leave still more school friends and family behind, but find a whole new cadre of friends that we will eventually love and leave behind. Moving on, we transition from job to job as we scramble to get ahead and climb the ladder to adulthood. Each new job brings people into our sphere that might help or hinder our growth towards what will hopefully one day be that happily ever after place.
And the biggest loss of all? Why it is our loss of identity when we retire from our profession and move onto the next stage of life. You sadly no longer have an answer to the quintessential question of “So, what do you do?”. Nobody wants to answer that question with “Nothin’, nothin’ at all”.
My experience was not dissimilar to this path, but even now the cycle of gain and loss continues. I gained some kids, but eventually lost them when they moved out. Then they came back, or got married, or had kids, and again there were gains of grandchildren or in-laws. Still later in life, both I and my partner lost our parents. That was probably the single most traumatic loss, as the loss of a loved one brings back a flood of memories that can be overwhelming at times. Nobody wants to be an orphan, but unfortunately, we all end up as motherless children at some point in our lives.
Now, in retirement, I’m finding that the cycle is accelerating as I’m seeing friends and acquaintances age out and pass. At the same time, I am seeing amazing gains as old friends flood back in from work, childhood, or college. It amazes me that the gains at this late stage appear to be outpacing the losses. I’ve found new friends that share the same hobbies as me, as well as old friends that I worked or went to school with. Again and again, I hear from these very same new/old acquaintances the stories of loss and gain. Quite often they are experiencing the exact same life changing event as I, at the exact moment that I am.
Case in point is a friend of forty years welcoming a new grand child at the same time that we are welcoming a new one into the world. Our grand kids boss us around and we spoil them to no end, just like grand parents have done since the beginning of time. Recently I tore my rotator cuff, only to discover that a golf buddy had also torn his. It turned out that he had the same doctor and had scheduled his surgery for the same month as I. We now meet for lunch and swap stories of pain and gain in our recovery journey. A side benefit of hooking up with old school pals is that they are generally at the same stage of life as I. They also have lost parents, jobs, friends, and loved one. We can re-bond and commiserate over all of these painful and pleasant losses and gains.
Now I don’t think that this is a sad tail at all, It is the circle of life and should give us booster fuel as we head into our golden years. Personally, I can’t wait for the next mystery to be dropped on my lap. I find renewed curiosity in the stories of old friends and the excitement of new adventures yet to drop on my lap. Recently, I’ve been doing some adventuring with a good friend of mine from decades gone by. We both have an interest in hiking, motorcycling, camping, and fishing. We’ve even discussed getting a 4×4 and driving to Alaska! So time to refocus my efforts on ramping up my survival skills. There are gazillions of internet resources out there to help me along in my journey.
God bless YouTube! I’ll leave y’all with a quote from some English youngsters
What have I done to deserve such a fate?The Beatles
I realize I have left it too late
And so it’s true pride comes before a fall
I’m telling you so that you won’t lose all