The day my father retired he threw away every suit he owned save one basic blue.
He also shifted into low, easy gear. A sort of simmering Crock-Pot sense of being.
He walked no farther than the mailbox or the perimeter of his one-acre suburban ranch of weed-less green lawn.
He leisurely patrolled his tiny fiefdom in a new uniform:
- a mesh baseball cap
- polo shirt
- high-waisted, flat-butt jeans
- a pair of Thom McAn loafers . . . with ruptured toe boxes where bunion bouquets emerged.
His days were largely spent on the back porch in the rubber band rocking chair. Reading the local newspaper. Smoking cigarettes. Drinking cans of Old Milwaukee.
By afternoon, he was finished with printed words.
His eyes slightly glazed and dreamy, he’d sink into contemplative silence.
Thoughts simmering like a thin stew.
His body beginning to look like a portly little pot.
And after 8 to 10 hours of back-porch marinating, he’s be ready to uncork a vat of ancient memories and freshly-poached wisdom.
From him, I learned there are two forms of retirement:
- The Outer: the pride of possessions earned and achievements polished for posterity.
- The Inner: the reflective retiring.
This last one fascinated me.
Those methodically lazy days. The slow-cookery living. My dad perfected them and gifted them to me as the legacy for his firstborn.
The stride meant for my adoption . . . a bit like a monk with an imaginary monastery.
But honestly, I feel rather lost and lonely trying to step in his footprints. I long for the days of his endless stories and jokes, no matter how stale. They gave me a steady sense of place.