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Thursday, 14 September 2000

50 Plus : Shifting Gears Chapter II

Written by  Rochelle Furstenberg

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In the first episode, Carol tried to persuade Bob to retire so that they could spend more time together, traveling and visiting the grandchildren. Carol herself is a retired teacher, who finds great satisfaction doing volunteer work with high school dropouts. Bob feels that his life is his work and is afraid to retire. But a year or so later, his brother-in-law dies after having a stroke. And Bob has a slight heart episode. Also, he begins to feel that the younger partners in the law office that he established are trying to keep him behind the scenes, fearful that an older partner might give their law firm a has-been image. He realizes that he has many things he wants to do while he is still healthy enough. So he retires. But Carol discovers that it isn't as idyllic as she had thought it would be.

Bob: (picking up lid of pot) What are you cooking?

Carol: Making vegetable soup.

Bob: Wouldn't it be better if you added some dill to the greens?

Carol: Bob, I've been making vegetable soup for forty years and you always said that you liked it .

Bob: I just remember that my mother always put dill in the soup.

Carol: (sighing) Why do you get involved in all these trivial matters?

Carol thinks: He sounds so childish. He's reverting to the early days of our marriage, when he wanted me to cook like his mother.

Bob: You wanted me to retire.

Carol: Not to teach me to make soup. You're used to handling large business issues. You're a creative thinker.

Bob: There's more on your mind. Now tell me, what else is bothering you?

Carol: You don't have to tell me which coffee is the cheapest, or where to buy better fruits and vegetables. I also know how to change a light bulb.

Bob: Hopefully, we're going to have to live a long time on my investments. We have to learn to save.

Carol: I thought you were going to go into the office twice a week as a consultant. That would allow me to buy the coffee I like.

Bob thinks: For years she nagged me to retire, and now she wants me to go back to the office

Bob: It's not so easy to fit into the business anymore. The young partners who bought out the firm feel they know it all.

Carol: You used to know how to assert yourself.

Carol thinks: Where's the Bob I once knew? I know it's not fair, but this new Bob stuck-at-home isn't masculine. I guess I'm angry with myself because I find him far less sexy.

Bob: What did you expect me to do when I retire?

Carol: Volunteer work, intellectual stuff.

Bob: It takes time to get into these things. I'm looking into courses at the university.

Bob thinks: The truth is that I'm happy to be doing nothing for a while. I'm celebrating just living.

Carol thinks: I'm really scared. Are we going to continue like this forever?

Last modified on Tuesday, 17 May 2011 10:08
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Rochelle Furstenberg

Rochelle Furstenberg

Rochelle Furstenberg has been writing and magazine editing for more than 30 years. She has a master's degree in Philosophy and studied toward a doctorate in English Literature before launching her career in journalism, with a focus on the arts and contemporary culture, women's issues, and religious and social topics. She has published in The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Hadassah Magazine, The Jerusalem Post and elsewhere. Rochelle is married, with children and grandchildren. She was the director of the WholeFamily Senior Center during the year 1999-2000.

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