Retirement Rules or The Kirsch Bottle on the Ironing Board

As family members and friends gradually retire from their traditional workplaces they either disappear completely or pop up cheerfully from time to time with morsels of coping advice.

This generally has to do with not letting yourself slip—which is presumably what has happened to those disappeared people. There are several categories which must be addressed: nutrition, time-planning, health, presentability.

Life is made up of those intervals of time that must be filled between meals. Never is this more apt than with the retired community. Seriously healthy eating is a major activity involving visits to the vegetable lady’s barn, and much consultation of almost-pristine cookbooks.

retired_1710533cInappropriate foods should be avoided: for example, a delicious, huge kebab I wolfed down a few weeks back had lasting and nefarious consequences. And a reliable source has recently mentioned green eggs and ham in an entirely negative way.

My oldest school friend from Canada has just retired and thoughtfully shared a stunning Sunday lunch tip: she and her husband are not allowed to drink alcohol with that particular meal if they are still wearing their pajamas. This reflects, of course, their stubbornly ingrained Protestant work-ethic and I don’t think applies here in the Swiss countryside. She did report that they did it once and didn’t get caught, so perhaps the slippery slope has been established.

Yes, the alcohol question must be addressed. Everyone knows that liqueur chocolates and white wine do not count, and I have a file folder full of clippings about the undeniable health benefits of red wine (there’s a particular Danish report which I find most uplifting.)

I also allow myself unlimited quantities of beer while ironing. A time-consuming activity, the very idea of turning mellow and singing along with the radio while pressing creases out of shirts and trousers in a cloud of steam is undeniably attractive. This works very well on warm summer evenings. Unfortunately, I don’t have much time to spare and so iron very rarely.

My sister has a lovely rule: you must not get out of bed before 8 a.m. Last weekend, for example, she said her husband only rose at 3:30 in the afternoon. Of course, you must check that people are still breathing, but sleeping, naps, and siestas must all be encouraged.

My old doctor (now retired, of course) once told me about his very oldest patient who was worried about going senile. She enquired what was the most important thing not to forget, and he told her lots of old folks forget to wash. The next time she visited him, she calmly informed him that she had solved that particular problem. She showered every morning, but in the evenings often couldn’t remember if she had, so always took another one.

So, in summary, enjoy yourself. Take a walk if the weather’s fine. Try to make a spinach soufflé every now and then. Change out of your pajamas late Sunday morning. Visit the junior family members from time to time wearing a smile and bearing gifts.

And, most important: try to stay under 80 for as long as possible.

Joy Kundig

Joy Kündig-Manning est née en Angleterre et a vécu au Canada. Spécialisée dans la littérature anglaise du XVIIIe siècle, elle a travaillé comme traductrice, enseignante, et écrivaine. Mariée à un Suisse, elle est venue à Genève en 1977. Elle est très contente de tenir le premier blog du Temps en anglais!