A few weeks back, Joe’s mother retired from a 33 year stint with a well-known communications company. Senior management, friends and family gathered one evening at Cool River Steakhouse to celebrate her many achievements and the new venture of retirement.

I had the pleasure of sitting next to her that evening. With a heavy heart, she thanked everyone for the continued support and everything that they’ve done to bring her to the present. Many people toasted her great accomplishments and even mentioned the sacrifice her family had to make for her career. Joe’s family didn’t move around too much, but I have to thank Teri for making the move down to Texas in the 80’s. If not, I wouldn’t have met Joe and they’d probably be living on the East Coast.

This post isn’t about me. It’s about Teri’s work ethic and positive attitude. I heard stories from Scott, Joe’s dad, about how she was up at the crack of dawn and at work at 5 a.m. He told us that several nights were spent working on the computer at home well after midnight. When Joe and Michael were little, they’d play in the home office where Teri was hard at work.  It was a surreal night that I won’t soon forget.

As we sat eating dinner, I asked for her personal advice on finances, one of the major topics that married couples argue about. Her advice happened to be the same advice I’ve heard from Joe a few times. Hmmm. Funny how that works. As a couple, both individuals work and build a good career while continuing to save, but live simply within our means. She basically said it’s best to live under one income. As one pays for certain expenses, the other continues to save for a rainy day. This isn’t to say that the breadwinner is the sole provider. Joe and I both have expenses to pay, but we are constantly working towards saving not spending. That certainly doesn’t mean you can’t spend some of that hard earned money from time to time. It was sound advice.

As dinner was wrapping up, Joe quietly asked his mother how it felt to finally be retiring after all these years. The answer may surprise some of you. There were mixed feelings as she described why she was retiring. Her health is slowly deteriorating and she needs to slow down. She somehow viewed this as giving in. As she began to cry, she said she knew this was the right thing to do, but she couldn’t help thinking that she was just giving up.

If her health was on point, she’d easily work into her mid to late 60’s. She loves to work and can’t stand doing nothing. We rarely see her shacked up on the couch watching television. She’s always gardening, cooking or cleaning. It’s just how she operates. It pained me to see her this way. For months, Joe’s family has been telling her to take it easy, me included. I don’t think I realized that she loves being active and working. She may overwork herself from time to time, but she’s doing something that she loves to do. Retiring has led her to leave something that she truly loved to do.

It got me really thinking about my own career path. I may not be doing what I love today, but I hope someday I’ll have her work ethic and leave the rat race just a little bit better. I know Teri did.


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