Welcome to my blog! I also encourage you to visit me on Twitter @kathysretiremnt.
I’m Kathy, retired since late 2012. It’s been an incredible journey so far fraught with unexpected twists and turns. Retirement, like every other part of life, can be planned to a point. Then, life intervenes however it wants, upsetting those well laid plans. I retired with my husband, Martin, who now resides in a memory care home with a rare form of dementia. Hospice is in attendance to his needs as well. This hideous disease is Primary Progressive Aphasia. It struck this man who bicycled up to 100 miles a week, watched his diet and did all the right things to take care of his body. We were devastated. We moved back to Michigan in 2019 after living in South Carolina for 21 years. I felt we needed to be near family. Martin was diagnosed with Aphasia in 2014 and specifically, Primary Progressive Aphasia, in early 2016, a blow to anyone at anytime. It derailed our vision of retirement. As you read through my story and posts, you will see how my perspective was altered by different experiences.
Originally, since I found very little information on the emotional and psychological transition from career to retirement, I started kathysretirementblog.com in November 2012 to help me and others sort out what retirement looks like for those of us wanting a retirement where we are mentally challenged, physically active and emotionally satisfied. I later launched http://www.caregiverschronicle.com to promote awareness of dementia and chronicle what it’s like to be a caregiver. During 2019 because of the time required to sell our house, buy another house and move our household, I became an inconstant blogger. Eventually, I had little time for anything but caregiving. Caring for Martin, the loss, my grief became the challenge of a lifetime. Now, I am reclaiming not only my retirement, but my entire life, my personhood, my dreams, my perspective.
Retirement takes more than financial preparation. It is more of a journey than an arrival at a life destination. And, it is not an end but a beginning. People are living longer, are more productive than ever. I hope my posts will provide you with insight and encouragement as you make or prepare for your journey.
I spent my career working in banking and real estate, both commercial and residential, local and national. Martin and I retired at the end of 2012. As we retired, I started a journey of rediscovery of who I am without my career. I also learned that life remains ever-changing and challenging. Martin’s diagnosis was unexpected, of course, necessitating life alterations in so many ways. We found ourselves floundering once again to find a solid footing as well as joy in our lives.
As we started our retirement, I took up new endeavors such as writing and expanded old ones, planting a vineyard to satisfy my desire to try winemaking (it didn’t go as planned). I quench my thirst for writing by blogging about my experiences and insights as well as writing personal essays and memoirs. As you read through my posts, you’ll see how some of my pursuits, such as painting, were a catalyst for new adventures, like drawing. I’m on a mission to show the world that retirement is a chance to put your dent in the universe.
As writing became my passion I realized I didn’t have time for farming, which was part of my original retirement plan. I still garden, but gave up growing vegetables 365 days a year (yes, we can do that in South Carolina) and removed the fruit trees, which take tremendous care to produce fruit. With the arrival of Martin’s diagnosis, writing also took a backseat, along with everything else. Our world stopped. I felt like I was slogging through mud.
We recovered by throwing ourselves into art. Martin is more prolific than ever. The move to Michigan was initially heart wrenching, but proximity to grandchildren, a house in need of renovation and a newly set up art studio and gallery is breathed fresh air into our deflated retirement. I started writing again. And making big plans for renovating the existing gardens at my new home. Covid and lockdown provided lots of time for stripping wallpaper and painting rooms. However, Martin declined to where he drank hand soap and tried to get out of my moving car. I couldn’t keep him safe anymore. Probably the worst day of my life was admitting him to memory care. Now, it’s me working my way back from the edge of a burned out caregiver redefining my retirement. The one thing in life we can be sure of is change. As for life, whether it’s in retirement or not, well, life begins right after leaving your comfort zone!
Welcome to my blog. Visit often. I encourage comments, questions and your insights. We’re all on this journey together.
Copyright 2022 Kathy Merlino All Rights Reserved