Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What happens when some good friends are retired and others are not?

Elizabeth Cuorato
What happens when some good friends are retired and others are not? Some are working because they love what they do and can’t think of anything else they would rather do; others would like to slow down, do something else, but are chained to their jobs for economic reasons. My sister sent me a post which made me think about how I talk about my retirement around friends who are still in the work force. Food for thought here:

From Elizabeth:

My dearest friend of over 40 years recently turned 60. We celebrated by spending the day in New York City and seeing the musical West Side Story.

I am fortunate to have two best friends from college, with whom I celebrate birthdays, holidays, and the ups and downs of our lives for over 40 years. They are “family”--a wonderful example of the friendships between women that sustain and enhance us.

We have navigated the developmental stages of life: the narcissism of the twenties, the responsibilities of the 30’s and 40’s, the challenges of the 50’s and now the decade of the 60’s. I now know that we will experience this decade differently. There is a chasm between those of us who are retired and those of us who are not.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am so happy for my dearest of friends. Barb is only two weeks into retirement. I see the bounce in her step, the burdens falling from her shoulders, the endless responsibilities of teaching in the Philadelphia school system a thing of the past.
She is relatively young, as is her husband who also retired from teaching. The world is their oyster. During our tip to NYC for Barb’s birthday celebration, our conversation was often punctuated with words of glee from Barb and Kristi as they described their leisurely days and travel plans . Barb plans to go to Jordan, Israel and Egypt. Kristi has plans set for another trip to Vietnam. Unlike me, they both have been avid, adventuresome travelers. Now it can be done at their leisure, anytime of year.

My retirement envy isn’t so much about the travel but the change in their daily lives. They were eagerly discussing plans for the Bruce Springsteen concert next week, scanning the cultural horizon for plays, movies, and concerts. It all seemed so freeing. It reminded me of my years as a child when the day was meant just for my friends and me. We would go out in the morning in the summer and play all day. Playing all day, what a wonderful concept that seems to describe retirement for my friends.

I am genuinely happy for Barb and Kristi and feel a vicarious thrill from their new lives. But there is another reality when I am with those friends who cannot retire. Sometimes we lament our fate and feel a new separateness from our retired sisters. In the end, we all made our choices early on. I love my career as a therapist in private practice and have the wisdom of a 62 year old woman to know it’s self-defeating to compare ourselves to others. We are all on our own journeys. My hope is to continue to find joy in my work and truly appreciate my health and each moment of my life.


  1. Dear Elizabeth,
    Well said! I hope you continue to find the joy in service of others thru your private practice. There definitely seems to be a vast need for talk therapy in our society and you are providing the "listening therapy" in a conscious and loving way!

  2. Dear Elizabeth,
    WOW, I have known you for the past 20 years as a gifted therapist and friend and never knew what a wonderful writer you are. Thanks for your
    descriptive words. Hugs, Barbara