Finding Life in Retirement

living-in-madison-wisconsin-progressive-culture-in-the-capital-4  I retired about a year ago. I worked at a brokerage firm in Madison, Wisconsin. It was my 25th year with the company, and I thought it was about time I moved. I lost my wife five years ago to cancer and our three kids had all moved away. My son, James, moved to Florida because he wanted to get away from the cold. He used to live in Hawaii, but he got a great job offer after graduating with his psychology degree from the University of Hawaii in Manoa. My daughter, Ashley, moved to Raleigh, North Carolina and opened up her own gelato store. She lives there with my wonderful son-in-law, Miguel, who is a web developer. They have three beautiful kids, Angie, George and Kelly. And lastly, my youngest child, Marc, has been living in Canada for the last year and a half one a hockey scholarship at the University of Toronto. He was studying graphic design while trying to be a professional hockey player.
2011-03-01_13-58-48.572I told the three of them that I was retiring and selling the house. They knew it was time, but I asked them to come to the house one last time to gather anything that they wanted to keep. Anything that they didn’t want to keep, we would sell or donate. I took to cooking that night. I wanted to make them their mother’s famous turkey dinner. We only ever ate the turkey dinner during Thanksgiving. But, I knew that we wouldn’t be able to have Thanksgiving together this year because everyone was scattered. They all came over and we had a wonderful dinner. We spent a lot of time reminiscing about the times we’ve had in the house. Ashley cried the most. She was UofT_Logo.svgclosest to my wife, Amy.

We went through all their old rooms and we spent a lot of time digging through their various belongings. And then came the worst part, we went through my wife’s belongings. I hadn’t touched any of her clothes, her jewelry or her night stand. I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of the clothes; they still smelled like her. Ashley was the bravest one and really she reminded me so much of her mother. She was so strong, she was kind, and she looked like Amy. She began rummaging through all the clothes first. She pulled out a blue dress, and I grabbed Amy’s blue dress from Ashley because I couldn’t let that one go. That was the dress Amy and I renewed our vows in. I cried as I held it close to my nose and mouth. I breathed in the faintest smell Amy had left on the dress. My kids sat around me in a circle and hugged me all at once. The boys silently shed tears and Ashley held her sobs in to be strong for her blubbering father.

After days of clearing things up, I called Advanced Disposal for bulk pickup. We had a yard sale and it was a success. We raised quite a bit of money that I gave to Ashley for the kids’ college funds. Whatever we couldn’t sell we donated and whatever else was left was sitting on the lawn waiting to be picked up. Ashley asked me to move in with her and Miguel. They had a guest house on their property that no one was using. I told her I’d pay her rent for it and she could put that money in the bank for the kids’ college fund. Once I sold the house, I gave each of them part of the sale. And now, I live in Raleigh.