Lovin’ Retirement
Some reasons to look forward to those golden years
By Erin Bell

It used to be that folks who retired headed for the rocking chair and resigned themselves to a future of quiet times and simple living. But not anymore. Older adults today find they still have the energy and interest to do everything they’ve always wanted to do, and they can sleep in! Take a look at how some SJ seniors have filled their days since leaving the workforce. Sure beats a rocking chair.

When-we-retired-my-husband_600x380_acf_croppedWhen we retired, my husband and I spent 30 days in Australia and New Zealand – it was something we always wanted to do. We had been putting money away for this trip for years. We toured, swam, hiked and went camping in the Outback. It was great. We wanted to do it when we were young, but I was a teacher and I could never take off during the school year, and of course during our summers, it’s winter Down Under. But I still wish we could have gone when we were young. Your perspective changes when you’re retired – it’s not as important to get rid of all the dust or change the curtains. You reprioritize so you can enjoy every moment. So I always tell people to travel while you’re young.  –  Mary Jane Breen, Willingboro

I love not having to work. I used to teach at a school. I go to the YMCA two days a week for an aquacise class, and I go to JFK in Willingboro once a week for a yoga class. I did a Chinese watercolor class; that was kind of a hoot! I saw “The Book of Mormon” in Philadelphia. I love going to dinner with friends and going to the festivals in SJ like the Peach Festival in Mount Laurel. It’s good to be able to do what I want to do. Whenever I can, I do it.  –  Eileen Carr, Edgewater Park

Since I retired, I’ve been learning how to swim and conquering my fear of the water. When I was 7 or 8, I had an episode in the Delaware River. There were never any pools for us to go to back then, so we went swimming there. I remember I fell and went under, though it’s hard to remember everything, but I saw a light and heard a voice, someone saying, “What is she doing here? It’s not time for her yet.” I felt like I was pushed out of the water and onto the shore on the other side. I didn’t tell anyone about it for a long time, and I was afraid of swimming for most of my life. But when I retired I decided to give it a try, and I’ve been swimming ever since.  –  Sylvia Ellis, Burlington

When we got the Social Security check, we hired someone to clean and hired a lawn service, so we don’t have to do that anymore. It’s my money, so I’m going to spend it on me! And there’s more naptime when you’re retired. I can take care of me better now, so I can still do things like volunteer at the Society of St. Vincent DePaul.  –  Paula Pietrow, Mount Holly

I love volunteering, and now I have more time to spend doing that. I work at the food pantry at the Beverly Presbyterian Church, and I visit the sick members of my church at their homes. It’s all about keeping busy. I’m bound and determined to help out. I get worn out, but I keep on going – use it or lose it, as they say.  –  Joan Kania, Edgewater Park

I have the opportunity now to do things I couldn’t do before. I take care of my mother, who’s 98 years old. And I have more time to go visit South Carolina, where my aunt lives in a nursing home. I want to make sure she’s OK. And now I get to play golf. I never had time to do that until I retired.  –  Joe Uscenski, Burlington

Retirement is the best job I’ve ever had. There’s no schedule. I never liked having a schedule anyway. I love waking up when I want. I worked in a nursing home for 31 years, and I learned that what people were talking about wasn’t cleaning or keeping up. It was about the trips they went on, their family and the times they spent. Knowing that helped me shape my retirement into something I enjoy.  –  Judy Branin, Columbus

I’m enjoying gardening every day. I love sewing. I have two young granddaughters and I make pillowcases and dresses for them. And I like to go to the casino once, or sometimes twice, a month – it depends on how lucky I get. I love my freedom.  –  Haydee Morales, Mount Holly

My time is my time. I go where I want whenever I want. I love having time to work in the garden. But now of course my back is too bad for too much gardening. And I meet with friends every weekday – the girls and I go to lunch, someplace different every day. But I just really, really love going to bed at night and knowing I don’t have to get up, that I can sleep in if I want to. The only thing that I have to do is keep my doctor’s appointments.  – Violet Wilson, Clayton

I love having time for my missionary work. I’ve been a member at Antioch Baptist Church for 55 years. I sing in the choir there, and now I have time to work there with the nursing home ministry and go to Bible classes on Wednesday nights. And I love traveling. I went to Hawaii and on lots of cruises. It’s a beautiful world we live in. To look at the beautiful sunsets and white sands – it’s just wonderful to be able to travel. You do things that interest you when you’re retired – you’re not going for anybody else.  –  Irene Butler, Camden

This is the happiest I’ve been in my whole life. I worked two jobs for 21 years: eight hours in the day and eight hours at night. Retirement was hard to adjust to at first. Since I had to get up at five in the morning all those years, it took me a while to get that out of my system. Every once in a while I’ll still get up at 5, but now I can have a nice cup of hot coffee and listen to music instead of going to work. When I retired, it was like I finally met my wife, and we’ve been married for 60 years. I love being at home. I do everything. I cook, I clean, I wash, I garden, and I love shopping for anything: clothes, shoes, food. Retirement is fabulous. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  –  Ed Hicks, Mount Holly


Since-my-retirement,-my-priorities-have-changedSince my retirement, my priorities have changed. I now work on my crafts almost incessantly and fit in my household chores – it used to be vice versa. I no longer have time pressures; everything is on my time because it’s all about me now. I earned it. I am lucky that my former employer called me back to work two days a week, which allows me to remain in the know-how and be with my co-workers and friends. I recommend that future retirees have a plan. Keep yourself busy with things you enjoy doing. If you don’t want to go back into the work field on a part-time basis, then volunteer at a place where you can offer your best. Just don’t stay idle or you’ll get old fast. I am glad I had a plan. I will be forever young.  –  Lucy Fernandez, Mount Holly

It’s the best time of my life. I love not having to report to someone; I don’t have a boss. Now my husband thinks he’s my boss, but he’s not!  –  Lauri Sheppard, Mount Holly

I like to shop! I love shopping anywhere. I don’t always buy something, sometimes I’ll just window shop. The other day I went into the drug store just to get a card for a friend – I was in there for three hours. I just spent so much time looking around and browsing. My friends don’t like to go with me, because they know I’ll take forever. And I love flowers and gardening in the yard. I have nice friends; we get together on Sunday evenings to play a game called bonanza. I love life. I love being retired.  –  Vermont Bentley, Camden

When I first retired, I had an agenda: I was going to have season tickets to the theater, do something with children and do volunteer work. And I still do all three. I like to travel. I keep busy, and I belong to several organizations, including the National Organization for Women (the Alice Paul chapter) and the Southern Burlington County NAACP. I’m a life member of the NAACP.  –  Demetra “Dea” Evans, Cherry Hill

I-worked-at-a-law-firm-in-PhiladelphiaI worked at a law firm in Philadelphia, so I was always under a lot of mental stress. I always wanted to sleep in, but never could – I had to be up at 5 or 5:30 to catch the early bus, and I wouldn’t be home until 6. Now I love being able to sleep in – even if I don’t want to. Even if I get up early for breakfast or to meet people, at least I know I could have slept in if I wanted. And I have time to do things like take three weeks to go visit my daughter in California or reconnect with old friends from high school. I also love making blankets, scarves and hats for the homeless at St. Francis Inn in Kensington.  –  Patricia Wisniewski, Willingboro

October 2014
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