Saturday, November 5, 2011

Retirement Realities—Losing Friends

Several times over the past few days I’ve sat down with the intention of working on this week’s post. Each time my thought process was sidetracked by the reality that one of my most devoted followers will no longer be out there to read my blog. I decided to dedicate this post to him.

I first met H. Peter Olsen, III when I began working as the Executive Director for a nonprofit about five years ago. He was one of about thirty board members and it was clear from the start that we would become friends.

Peter and I had both spent much of our careers working at large companies—he at a prestigious law firm, I at a Fortune 500 corporation. We looked at philanthropy as serious business, but we didn’t take ourselves too seriously. At his funeral service last week, the priest referred to Peter’s sage advice and his wit, qualities that I especially appreciated.

Even after I retired, we stayed in contact, mostly through email. When I decided to publish my first year of RetirementSparks posts, I realized that I would need some extra eyes to proof the pages. Peter was one of a handful of friends that I contacted and he readily agreed to help. He actually seemed honored that I had asked him.

Peter had retired shortly before I did. He was dealing with some serious health issues, but he was doing remarkably well. In an ironic twist of fate, it was an accident—a fall—that led to his untimely passing.

This sad event brought me full circle to what led me to blog in the first place. My dear friend Sheryl died unexpectedly about three years ago. Her death made me realize that we never know when the moving finger of fate will write our name in the sand. I decided to retire as soon as the numbers made sense, which was shortly after I was eligible for Medicare.

My secret ambition had always been to be a writer. The absurdity of the Medicare paperwork and process were the impetus to start blogging. The rest, as they say, is history.

Thank you for allowing me this indulgence of remembering not just one, but two dear friends who have gone on before us. If you’re out there trying to decide if it’s time for you to retire, I offer this advice. If you can do it, you should do it.

None of us knows how long we’ll have to pursue our passions, to chase our dreams. In the movies and on Broadway, there’s always tomorrow, just a day away. In real life, sadly, we can never be sure.

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