In retirement – too soon beats too late

My 92 year old father still drives. I went on a website to get ideas on how to have the “talk” with him about giving up his car. I memorized my lines and started out. “Hey Dad, can you imagine that one day you won’t drive anymore?” According to the website, he would say “Yes” and I would say, “Well how about you do it too soon rather than too late?” Then we would have a mature and thoughtful conversation about the car keys, etc.

Instead my father answered “No” and that was the end of the conversation. I was very disappointed that my dad did not know his lines and that he had neglected to read the same website.

In spite of the lack of success with my attempt to keep the roads safe, I have remembered the too soon rather than too late adage and I try to put it into practice in my own life.

I sold my single family home when I was 44 and moved into a condo. I don’t mess with snow, leaves or lawn care. My husband adores watching our “people” do that work. I think this is a terrific way to manage housing.

Move out of that big house too soon, before the kids are whispering about what they are going to do about Mom and Dad. Get rid of that maintenance before you can’t do it anymore.

Don’t wait for a crisis, do it early. Be a trendsetter. Trendsetters are cool!

I plan to keep up this early bird philosophy. I have sworn to my daughter that when I’m 80, I will be safely ensconced in assisted living. Will it be too soon? Yep, I will be the youngest kid on the block and that’s okay with me.

I view it as the last gift I will give my children, the gift of not having to have the conversation with me. It’s my last parenting act, showing that I care about my safety and my girls don’t have to pack me up.

I am 60 and I have already downsized my Christmas tree and decorations. I have read too many status updates by Facebook friends complaining that they have to do their tree and their parents. Not us! We have a small table top tree with consolidated ornaments. Did I mention it’s prelit and everything fits in the corner of a closet?

Could we have put up the big tree and done the whole nine yards? Sure but already we needed help getting it from above the garage and up to our second floor condo. I am not wasting favors on that! I am saving them for the big important things like rides to the hair dresser at age 95!

What else am I doing too soon rather than too late? Travel! Yes, we went on a big trip to Cuba recently that involved a lot of walking, stairs, cobblestone streets and various modes of transportation. We had the opportunity, I grabbed it. Because you never know!

Do it now, do it soon and ten years from now think “What was my hurry? I could still do that.” That’s great, then you can have some other adventure.

This summer we are doing Alaska with a small group of fellow Alumni. It’s another active trip with stairs, glacier walking and kayaks. We are doing it now, while we still can.

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  1. I loved the portion of this article “Pared down stuff? Everything but the fabric and if you value your life, don’t touch that stash.” Hilarious! And I so agree.

  2. Thanks for the kind comment, Deanna! And I’m serious about that stash unless you need some fabric, then I will share with you!

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