The Comic Relief of Retirement: Getting Started | News, Sports, Jobs


Chances are, you thought retirement would finally bring long-awaited opportunities. Like the time to pursue those hobbies you’ve kept on the back burner for decades. Basket weaving, reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica set your parents bought for you in 1963 – even expand your stamp and coin collections. Well… not so fast.

There are 75 million baby boomers. If you are or could soon be part of this group, you understand that life’s diversions persist and sometimes intensify over the years. Accidents, family dramas, medical conditions, and constant reports of strain on today’s societal, environmental, or political climates can lead to sleepless nights, worry, and uncertainty about the future. It might seem like the joyful happiness we’ve been waiting for is fading away.

Lots of advice is offered on starting social security, managing health insurance, investing savings, or where to live in retirement. You will find none of that here. Instead, this column will focus on humorous insight useful for tolerating, maybe even managing, frustrations after workdays are over. Prepare for an absurd analysis of the unexpected inconveniences of retirement, challenges, aggravations, and hair-raising family circumstances that throw life into a wrench. These can be many. Take it from me. I have parents.

My tendency to see humor in difficult situations probably began after church on a Sunday in 1958. The sermon that day was about “respect,” something about which the preacher was so adamant that he kept the congregation captive twenty minutes after the usual noon break. Before we got to the car, Dad was fuming. He said to mom, “This guy knows nothing about respect. If he had, we would have been out at noon! Dad wasn’t smiling. But I was.

It wasn’t until high school in 1965 that my interest in entertainment solidified. At that time, the fascination for science pushed me towards a career as an orthodontist. But what high school did bring was something else pretty important to enjoying life: acting lessons.

In second grade, a group of classmates would gather in the cafeteria for lunch over a plate of peanut butter-laden meatloaf or a faux Salisbury steak each day. Before long, they were expecting me to arrive armed with a joke. With practice, each oratory better timed the strike line to coincide with Jimmy Rails packing in a bite of Sloppy Joe or taking a sip of milk. Once this skill was mastered, no one dared to sit directly across from Jimmy. Those who did suffered a wet splatter of half-chewed sandwich.

I hope you’ll join me in future columns in the Minot Daily News as we focus on reducing retirement anxiety when things don’t go exactly as we hoped. This includes when we each discover our own “Cousin Eddie” unexpectedly pulling the motorhome to the curb with his family on Christmas. With a little effort and the right perspective, the unexpected events of retirement can bring smiles, even when the dog is choking on that turkey bone under the table.

Information about me for a slogan? I don’t know what a “label” line should look like. Maybe you can help me with this? Something found here, perhaps?

Sommers is a retired Minot orthodontist, former president of the ND Dental and Orthodontist Associations, husband, father, grandfather and reluctant diaper changer (not his – grandchildren!)



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