Retired at 71 in Key West, Florida... and Busy Busy lady!
by Judy P
Key West, Florida is a tropical island and international tourist destination, where I retired at the age of 71, after living and working here for the past twenty-five years.
Living alone with my two pug dogs, with a divorce far in the past, I realized that my senior life would be best lived in a place where living alone would not be lonely or unusual.
I also realized that family members had dispersed all over the country and my friends were either moving away to live nearer to their families, going into assisted living/retirement communities elsewhere or dying!
First let me say that living in a tourist destination is a really good idea for retirees who do not want to retire from life, just from work.
There is a young feeling about it because many of the people who live and work here are just that, young. It's better for a person's mental health, in my view, for older people to be amongst younger ones and not just in an old crowd.
When I left my full time employment and started collecting social security, I knew that if I did not work, I would become a hermit in my house, sitting in front of the television all day and night.
So, I decided to work part-time if I could find a job that would suit me, which I did.
First I worked as a docent in one of the museums in town, a beautiful and historic building that was a pleasure simply to be wandering around in and talking to people from all over the world who came to visit. When the museum's budget would not allow for a paid docent I thought about volunteering, but the extra money from a part-time job was too enticing, so I decided to find another one if I could.
An opening came about in a popular resort where an acquaintance was a manager. She told me they were looking for someone to answer the phone on weekends. In my youth, working weekends would not have appealed to me, but at this age, who cares?
So I now answer the phone Saturday and Sunday at a large and beautiful beachside hotel, where simply walking on the property makes me feel good. The sparkling ocean, the swaying palms, white sand, crystal clear swimming pools and the happy people on vacation are sure to life my spirits if I'm feeling down. Besides, the job does not require standing and is not stressful for someone my age.
Life has dealt me some blows; whose hasn't?
However, despite my declining circle of friends and acquaintances, and my limited mobility, I am so busy that I don't have time to think about it.
I love my job.
My two close friends and I have dinner out together every Saturday night. I am a member of the Women of the Moose Lodge. I applied and was accepted by the city commission as a volunteer member of the civilian review board to hear complaints against the police department. As part of that training, I enrolled in the Citizen's Police Academy and attended classes in crime investigation, firearms, crime scene investigations, etc. I sometimes do a ride along in a patrol car with a police officer. I entered and graduated from the city's Ambassador Class, which met weekly for several months, where we heard from and met with city officials about how the city is run. We graduates now have informative monthly luncheons with speakers who are representatives of various city government or civic organizations.
I always pictured retirement as "taking it easy." As Key Westers say, "No way, Jose'".