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A Happy Man, 94, Describes His Version Of Retirement


Orville is as energetic a 94 year old as you can find. He is a successful CPA and still works four days a week. He tells me he’s going to cut back to three days a week when he hits 95. In describing the concept of retirement, he tells me about a discussion he had with his wife when he reached 65. 

He said “If I stayed home all the time, you’d either want to kill me or I’d want to kill you”. So he kept working, but changed some things. For one, he never put on a suit and tie again. That was his version of “retirement”. He works in his Bermuda shorts when it’s hot. He has staff at the office and he works there, serving his clients as any accountant would.

He is engaged in many family activities with children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They go to ball games together and take cruises, which he loves, just having returned from taking 24 family members to Mexico. The next cruise is already planned. He describes his as “an ideal life”.

It’s not as if Orville has had a trouble free existence. Far from it. He has overcome many difficulties in his life. He saw direct, terrifying combat in WWII as a U.S. Army officer, experiencing high casualties and many close calls in his regiment. He was captured and held as a POW by the Germans, saved by the Russians and eventually went home where he continued to serve in the Army until his discharge. During his civilian life, he experienced paralyzing illness from which he eventually recovered. He outlived his beloved wife and suffered the accidental loss of a grandson. Health issues arise. The wear and tear of 94 years is felt. But he is unrelentingly optimistic, always looking forward to something good.

In interviewing Orville, I asked him about his legacy, what he wanted to be remembered by and what values he wants to pass on. Family togetherness is an obvious one and surrounding himself with positive people is another. He told me the story of a grandson’s engagement. He is particularly close to this grandson and they go to football games together often, as both have the same alma mater. Though he had lost his wife some years before, he still wore his wedding ring. He decided that he wanted his grandson to have his wedding ring when the grandson got married. Orville gave it to him when the grandson got engaged. The ring is part of his legacy, something to be remembered by and a symbol his of 64 year marriage.


The concept of legacy is getting more attention lately as people are living longer and considering the values they live by and what they want the next generations to understand about them. Legacy is more than what inheritance a person leaves to his heirs. It includes those memories stories, symbols, mementos and anything the older person wants to include. In Orville’s case, his legacy must consist of many enjoyable family cruises with multiple generations on board, the example of being productive into advanced years, being an avid fan of his favorite teams, taking plenty of time off and having fun whenever possible.

For adult children who have never had a conversation about legacy with their aging parents, it’s a good thing to bring up if parents are willing. Now is the time. There is value in recalling happy memories. There is benefit in asking an elder how he or she wants to be remembered and recording it in some way, whether by audio, video, photos or other means. Many older folks are honored to be asked and are glad to tell you what they value. Others, not so much. If one wants some help with the creative part of such projects there is paid assistance that helps families collect their photos and mementos to tell their stories to future generations. Or, use the technological tools at hand and do it yourself. Anyone keeping track of Orville’s legacy will have quite a fat book and record.

It seems that part of what makes Orville happy is creating good memories for everyone around him. He once said that if anyone in his workplace had a negative attitude, they had to go. He surrounds himself with people who share his outlook of seeing the best in others and in what is before him. After his wife passed, one of his friends noted that he did not seem to be overcome with grief. He replied that he had enjoyed over 60 years with a wonderful woman and he preferred to just think about that. This is a man who is a joy to be around. It is no wonder that he sees himself as living an ideal life. It is what he has created, what he puts his attention on, what he spends his time building every day and it is how he sees what is before him. That may seem like viewing the world through rose colored glasses, but I would love to be like Orville, should I live to be 94. I’m sure he’ll find things to fill his time when he cuts back to working only three days a week after he hits 95!

Forbes



This post first appeared on Akokosblog, please read the originial post: here

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A Happy Man, 94, Describes His Version Of Retirement

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