"Preacher, if you don't find a job for my husband, I'm going to shoot him." That's what the lady said. Her husband had been retired for just three weeks. His wife of 50 years further said, "He's under my feet and in the way all day long. He doesn't know what to do with himself and he doesn't know how to help me."

Do too many retire, quit, sit down and waste away too soon? Over the years I have heard hundreds of stories about men who retire at 55, 60, or 65 and are dead within a year. I'm not sure why it happens. Maybe it doesn't happen more often to this age group than any other. Perhaps it is simply talked about more when it happens to a person we all thought was ready to enjoy life as he had planned it. We, of course, know we can die any day at any age.

Recently, I had the happy privilege of being the guest speaker for the annual banquet honoring the "Retired and Senior Volunteer Program" of Putnam County, W.Va. Their director, the multi-talented Tammy O'Neil, and her superb staff arranged a delightful dinner event to honor more than 100 of these leaders who were present.

It was all built around the theme, "Stardust Memories", and highlighted the contributions made to enhance the community life of every age group. My wife, Kitty, played the piano and led the group in an enthusiastic time of "memory music" before her solo and my humor-filled presentation. We laughed together heartily for 25 minutes. It was a fun time.

These retired senior volunteers, all well known in the county, come from the business, labor and professional community. They are at least 55 years old and use their skills, talents, hobbies, training and life experiences to help others.

This group serves as tutors and mentors for young children and teenagers, gardeners, computer operators-programmers, transportation drivers, class instructors, office assistants, and as friendly visitors in hospitals and nursing homes. No sitting down, drying up and blowing away for these active senior citizens. They may not even know how to spell the word "retirement."

All who were present received a "Volunteer Survival Kit". Its contents were described this way.

A stick of gum to remind you to stick with it!
A chocolate kiss to remind you that you are loved!
A match to light your fire when you feel burned out!
A tootsie roll to remind you not to bite off more than you can chew!
A smarties to help you on those days when you don't feel smart!
A starburst to give you a burst of energy on those days you don't have any!
A snickers to remind you to take time to laugh!
A bag to help you keep it all together and give you food for thought!
And, most importantly, a candle to remind you that you can brighten someone's day!

Senior citizens can unite and make a difference in every area of life. Team up with other seniors and make the world a better place in which to live for all its inhabitants. You've worked all your life to be a retired citizen so don't blow it. You can't start over. Get all the gusto you can out of life the only time around. Remember to work easy, sit loose, and go to sleep if you start to worry.

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Copyright © 2003 Bill Ellis. All rights reserved.