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"King David's Retirement"

King David’s Retirement
    There have been many ways that having someone retire from a career have been stated. “You ever think about retirin’?”---Mickey Goldmill in Rocky. In Gran Torino, Walt Kowalski is handed a clock with huge numbers on it.  This is in a request his daughter and son in law hint that he should retire from the home he and his wife raised their family in, since he is already retired from the Ford Motor Company. What’s next? They’re thinking death.  He is living one day at a time.  He’s living in the moment and he doesn’t care about someone else’s comfort. Because it is none of their business.
    In 1973, our family of four drove up to my Gramp and Nana’s house for a party. My Dad’s Dad was at the retirement age. Which for that time period was sixty-five. It did, however, depend on who you were and who you worked for.  The average age could be either sixty-two or sixty-five.  An age back then few made it to. The statistics showed life expectancy on an average for Caucasian men was sixty-seven years old.  For African-American men it was age fifty-nine.
    Many places you worked for, like Campbell’s Soup, Pepperidge Farm, Ford Motor Company gave you a watch or a pen set upon retirement.  Something to denote your time finished in the working man’s environment.  Basically, you were put out to pasture.  And many times, you were considered too old for new ideas. Too old to be productive.  Too old to remember key applications that the younger blood, coming into the workforce could remember.
    This thought brings to mind quite often in my day, how in the Bible Joab convinces King David to retire. Joab will take care of going to war.  He declares King David to be too old to go into battle.  And besides, he’s the anointed. Reluctantly, King David retires from going to battle, for the most part. I have no clue why I have throughout most of my life, contemplated this scene from the Bible seemingly implanted permanently in my head since 1973. But it exists, regularly in my mind’s eye, practically every day.
    Part of the thought is, ‘Why do we want to retire and sit around doing nothing?’ I see the people that retire, perhaps they move away to the south.  It doesn’t seem to matter whether they get a job, start a new job, go back to school or enter into the world of voluntary service to others. It appears they all live the same amount of time, if they haven’t changed their mindset. I’ve known plenty of people working well past their retirement age. A few till age eighty-five, staying in the same business.  My Gramp was one of them, working till age eighty-three, until Alzheimer’s forged ahead forcing him to officially retire. Some on a different level remain in the same business. I knew a doctor from when I was a child who died six months after he retired from medicine at age ninety-nine.
    Quite conversely, I see plenty of people, who are generally healthy, who do even less after they retire. Whether they move away or reside in their home they’ve been in for decades. Those people appear to lose the capacity of remembering things, as well the ability of thinking outside the box. What comes to my mind is, ‘What a shame’. Retirement quite often is discussed during the holiday dinners, perhaps within families. I remember this conversation more after I was married nearly thirty-six years ago.  The discussion back then was among my husband’s older siblings and cousins, who were in their thirties. And their plan was to bask in the sun, or something like that.  One evening after a holiday family gathering, on our ride back home. We had stopped at a traffic light. I then inquired of husband, “You retiring? I’m not ever retiring.”  His response, “I’m not retiring.” I quipped, “That’s so depressing.  We can always work at something.  That’s what we’re meant for.”  He agreed.
    King David reluctantly retired from going into battle.  However, he was still king.  He still called the shots.  He made plans and strategies for the army. On his deathbed, he handed the torch of King to his son Solomon.  King David retired on his deathbed. King David technically never left the workforce, he just changed the angle in which he worked it. Comparatively, when someone changes a career, we could say they retired from whatever it was that they’d done previously. However, we use the word retirement as a finality, sort of like a death. We need to change that thinking, so that we promote a quality of life thinking. King David did.---Jody-Lynn Reicher


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