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Dear FRONTLINE,

I was saddened and disgusted by your Frontline feature on retirement. I think if I were a person contemplating retirement and looked at that playpen for the elderly, I'd jump off a bridge or something similar.

My husband and I have been retired for 25 years - I'm 85, he's pushing 90,. When he retired, we bought a motor home and traveled - primarily to national parks and forests, 2 trips to Alaska. We had friends who were avid hikers, whom we joined . We were active in the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society and our church, and I did newsletters for several of the organizations.

I guess we're do-gooders, and for the last 15 or 20 years have been active politically. I'm particularly interested in electing liberal women to public office and we have been engaged as volunteers in several campaigns, winning some and losing some. I think we lead a meaningful life, at least I hope so.

To be surrounded entirely by wrinkles and white hair whose aim for their later years is fun - fun- fun, would be to me a dreadful fate which we did not pick, thank heaven

There are so many things to be done in the world that volunteers can do, is for me the way to have a meaningful old age (which I began in my younger years.)

Lillian Adams
Carbondale, IL
ladams@midwest.net

Dear FRONTLINE,

It is time to re-name re-tirement to re-energizement - a time for rebirth and a second chance to find our true mission in life which is not - 'work to make money' but is to live to make (create) love. I look forward to my re-birth at 56 in just a few months. I will work for money or for free but always for joy and fun - I will enjoy the freedom of doing my mission in life. Now I will have the time to find my mission and the freedom to accomplish something important for mankind - even if it may seem trivial to some - it will be MY mission.

Peace and Love and Joy!
(A student of The Course in Miracles and recently the Celestine Vision)

Tijeras, NM

Dear FRONTLINE,

I was crying at the end of your mostly depressing look at retirement. I believe that retirement must be very different for individuals, and not everyone can be or might even want to be "youthful." However, I was not crying for those who are less youthful in old age; I cried in happiness to see the two very youthful "geezers" dancing and conversing with one another after being introduced by the documentary's host.

Beth Hash
Bluefield, WV
bhash@inetone.net

Dear FRONTLINE,

At age 67, I do not have the luxury of retirement. Twice divorced (25 years single), mother of 3. I find myself still trying to make a living. Soc.Sec? only $200, not much with no other income other than what I can generate. I don't even think of myself as old. I am a sculptor & potter and my creativity is the center of my being. I have a good sense of humor and that helps. Life is so full of discovery. Just moved here in Decem,ber. with no means of supporting myself, but fell in love with the area and I had to live somewhere, so I took a risk and a few thou. savings and here I am. right in the middle of life, sure I'm scared but what else is new. Have been trying to meet someone to share life' adventure with but no luck. Now Howard Saltzman, he's the kind of man I have been looking for..go ever forward and "hang" the past!!! What say you????

Marilyn J. Bader
St. Augustine, FL
mjbader@aol.com

Dear FRONTLINE,

My husband and I just watched "My Retirement Dreams". We both related to it, and enjoyed it.

He's retired, I'm not. We watched our parents retirement, and have friends in that state.

My dad moved to Florida 20 years ago, at age 65. He "was going to a warehouse for old people waiting to die". He's 86 now, and is still waiting. What an unpleasant prospect.

My husband and I look forward to full retirement with excitement. The way we see it, we have fulfilled all the responsibilities laid on us by society and our families.

We were good kids, good parents, good workers. The last thing we have to do to fulfill everyone's expectations is die. But not for a long time. And until then, we'll be the drummers, and we'll dance to our own music.

Dancing lessons, travel, volunteering, golfing, sleeping late on Mondays, taking classes, teaching classes, etc., etc., etc. And we only have to do what we want to do. What fun to contemplate. Will it be as much fun to live? We'll make it happen that way.

Arlene
Lynbrook, NY
miata_mama@earthlink.net

Dear FRONTLINE,

This was interesting to me, especially the comments on what to do with your day when you retire. I still haven't faced that, for I still work. In fact, I don't know how I would cope without work. I could, of course, but it would be a real challenge. I have been fortunate in some ways and unfortunate in others. I am 68 years old, hearing impaired, and have buried two husbands, and in December of '96, a fiance. I have two daughters who live far away and no family here. I have the good fortune to have a degree in Early Child Development and work in a nursery for babies 6 weeks to 15 months. Since they don't yet have language, my hearing impairment is not a detriment. I also have good health because I weigh the same as I did 40 years ago ( I'm slender) and I exercise religiously and eat a low fat diet. That, too, I have been doing for 40 years, so there has been reason for drastic changes there. I feel deeply compassionate for those I saw on this program tonite, who were thrown so suddenly into a "life of leisure" after having led such productive lives. I can only hope when I can no longer work, that I find the courage and optimism I saw in so many tonite. Thank you all for sharing your lives with us!!

Bev Crook
Danville, IL
bc2929@net66.com

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am 43 days away from my last day at work. Your program tonight has given me pause. I don't feel ready for the big change.

Karen
Phoenix, AZ
iadkmz@juno.com

Dear FRONTLINE,

Retirees who mourn the loss of their work life should stop their crying. You want to be productive? Don't look at your old jobs as the only way to make a contribution. Volunteer, offer community service, assist hospitals, be a big brother or big sister, help clean up the environment. In short, stop complaining about what's happening in the country and make a contribution to help it. You have no problem taking your social security including more than you contributed. Now give something back!

Virginia Beach, VA

Dear FRONTLINE,

There is no question in my mind that an active retirement is possible beyond the routine path of golf and cards. Volunteerism, which was not addressed at all in your program, offers a challenge to accomplish new things, meet new people, experience a new life. Up until this year I've been an active volunteer in condo offices, county cutural programs, college level teaching and study, and health institutions. If any one feels depressed or useless, REACH OUT. A world of opportunity exists to help others and yourself.

Tamarac, FL

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am a married 22 yr. old student of Nursing . I have always felt very comfortable around all age groups, but in my early teens I remember looking up to the middle aged and elderly people in my community for answers and security instead of my peers. I know that older people have many wonderful stories and adventures to tell of, and will hopefully never overlook that in my training or practice. This program helped to reinforce that, and was a very good example of showing how people of all ages are worried about the same things.. dating, divorce, changes, control of their lives... I am always looking for things in people that show just how much people really share across generations as well as countries.

Back to the topic at hand: The more you use your brain, vocabulary, voice, feet, the better they work!

I do wish that Retirement centers and day care centers could convene. Both would enjoy and benefit from it so much.

Stacy Sherrard
Auburn, AL
wilkesm@mail.auburn.edu

Dear FRONTLINE,

As one who "was" retired eg. downsized, I was devastated at first. Then I got another job at 60 which is very different from my first career, but related. I am on a fast learning curve for this job (I am now 62) and loving every minute of it. I intend to work as I had intended before retirement to the age of 70. Then I'll see. I travel in my present job and did a lot of travel while working so I don't need to retire to do that. Even though I have enough hobbies to keep me active till I die, I like working for a living. It keeps me young and active and gives me an excuse to get out of the house. I am an advocate of this life.

Hillsborough, NJ

Dear FRONTLINE,

My wife and I retired at age 62. Our early retirement years were spent in travel, taking courses, going to Elderhostels and enjoying theatre and opera in NY. Sixteen years later, most of our almost every one of our dear friends have passed away. Health issues have become a major factor in our lives, Yet, we continue to the utmost of our abilities to live the richest, fullest lives of which we are capable. I study on the internet and volunteer at a local hospital. As long as you have your mental facilities, take retirement as a challenge!

Harvey Teicher
Matawan, NJ
HTeicher@aol.com

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am an early retiree and a boomer-what a combination! I chose to leave work because of health related issues, as did my husband.

We are now both searching for new ways to spend our time and money that will bring us fulfillment and leaving us wondering what to do with our time each day. This is not an easy process, as old habits have to be broken and chances have to be taken as we try new activities and "put ourselves out there". I think retirement can be freeing and fun if one is unafraid to start again, and maybe be the new "kid" on the block for a while.

We have started slowly, volunteering,(a great way to find new interests and friends), with the humane society and possibly also with the literacy council.

We are thinking about moving, but have no definite plans at present.

We are nervous but hopeful that all will turn out well in our new venture.

I would say to everyone don't be afraid to look inside yourselves. What are your passions? What did you love to do when you were younger? What did you or do you do that makes time slip away unnoticed? those are your passions. Follow them and good luck!

Laurie Hochman
Springfield, VA
Rhoch@aol.com

 

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