Failing retirement — and proud of it!


Have you ever considered how just a few hours of your time could positively impact your local neighborhood or our community at large? Suppose each retired resident of North County would reach out to a neighbor, their city block, a nearby school, or a local community project for just one hour a week. Just imagine the changes that would result – meeting a new neighbor, having a city block devoid of fast-food wrappers and unwanted flyers, children eagerly wanting to read a few minutes longer, military families receiving needed household items, homeless persons having warm hats to ward off the cold and damp. The possibilities are infinite. The results, mind-boggling.

Currently some of your neighbors are helping foster children transition to independent living by providing furniture and household furnishings. Others are helping new immigrants to learn English and assimilate into a new culture. There are sewing groups making pajamas for low income families. Lots of knitters and crocheters are busy creating warm hats, scarves, and mittens for the homeless. Layettes for newborn babies of junior enlisted personnel are being assembled in several communities. Potentially life-saving helmet coolers and cool collars are being sewn and filled with water absorbing crystals for delivery to our troops on the front lines. Dogs and cats in the local shelters need friends to walk with them. Any retirement home or nursing facility could identify those who would thrive with an occasional visit. Who couldn’t listen to a young learner read aloud each week? If you have more stamina, perhaps stacking shelves in a food pantry would help maintain your physical fitness. Have a good driving record and enjoy driving? The Veterans Administration desperately seeks drivers to transport non-driving veterans to medical appointments in Oceanside and La Jolla. Opportunities to help others abound.

Won’t you join me and others who take pride in “failing retirement”? You don’t need to join another group or get out your checkbook. Simply turn off that TV, get out of your recliner, take a look around and put your life skills and energy to use. The payoff will be a new kind of joy, the joy of witnessing another’s self-esteem soar as they are empowered with a new skill, a new sense of self-worth, or pride in one’s surroundings.. No medical treatment, bottle of wonder drug, floral bouquets or accolades can exceed the joy of knowing that your efforts made a difference in the lives of others. Your legacy of community service and small acts of kindness may be the only role model of sharing oneself your loved ones will experience in their lifetime. Working alongside a child, a grandchild or a friend guarantee the joys will increase.

Do you still have tread on your tires of life? Get out of the garage of ho-hum boredom and complacency! There’s lots to be done!

Patricia Kellenbarger