Nothing has influenced my perspective on retirement so much as what happened to my grandfather. He was a truck farmer seventy-odd years ago, growing vegetables in the Hockomock swamp for sale in nearby Brockton. But New England farming isn’t ever going to be a fast track to riches, and he had other jobs as well.
But the time I was born, his farming days were mostly past, and he worked as a janitor in the public schools. He sold the big farmhouse and moved with my Nana into the cottage he had built years before for his then-newlywed daughter, who had moved away. Much of the farmland he sold to Cumberland Farms, who used it to grow cattle corn.
His plan, when he retired, was to drive around the U.S. with his wife and visit the places he’d never had time to see before. But he was a good worker, and the district wanted to keep him on. They asked, and he agreed, to one more year of work before retirement.
That year, Nana died.
Having lived through a major health scare in 2014, my wife and I have both been given just cause to think about how and when our lives may end as well. But I’m relatively young for a heart patient, and unless I manage to miraculously pen the next Harry Potter novel I can’t see myself financially able to quit my day job, much less retire, for another two decades or more.
But if, between now and then, I agitate for the chance to blow some money on a holiday trip with my wife, I hope you understand why it matters.