Monday, January 25, 2016

Retiring to Florida – Here I Come?



Sitting around with a group of friends, someone threw out the question, “Where are we all going to buy places near each other in Florida?” What?  I did not think I was at the point where I am even thinking of that, as we have our girls in college, I am still happily working, and do not consider myself that close to retirement.  Then the temperature dropped below freezing – I am not a fan of the very cold weather and the thought of Florida from that conversation popped into the back of my consciousness.  Then I headed down to Florida to visit my father, as I have not seen him since he left in October.  Immediately, I was happy to put on a pair of shorts and sandals.  The first day, I walked to the 19th hole café on the grounds, saying hi to everyone I passed.  As I sat there, it dawned on me that I am eligible to become a resident in 2 years from now, but as I looked around, it was very apparent that I was a guest by the vast difference of the ages between everyone else and me.  Am I ready for this lifestyle?

I think that I have been to Florida most years since I was a teenager.  I watched as my grandparents rented an apartment one or two months, then eventually bought a place.  My other grandparents always rented.  As time moved forward, and one generation lived only in our hearts and memories, my father and his peers began to make the annual trek to the warmer climates.  It has been the ongoing joke, you move to Florida and immediately you have the urge to eat dinners at 4:00, which makes room for the fourth meal after the early show.  Most of our friends have parents that spend time in Florida.  A few weeks ago, we were at a birthday party and someone said they preferred the Carolinas to Florida and found a senior community they like.  This has become the circle of life?  Queue Sir Elton John and the popular Disney theme song.  Show the baby, go to school, work, raise a family, and retire to Florida.

As I sat there eating my food, I watched an aide wheel a resident with her son.  “Mama, you want roast beef?” he asked.  In a small voice, she asked what else they had.  “Turkey.  How about a roast beef sandwich,” he yelled.  Again, the tiny voice asked what they had.  The aide moved in close to her ear and yelled ROAST BEEF SANDWICH, to which the resigned older lady said in her tiny voice, “I will have roast beef.”  I heard her speak, but it seems as if she was no longer allowed to have a “voice”.  I finished up and looked around.  All good people, all elderly, all still able to get out, but there was no doubt about where some of them are in their circle of life.  I paid my bill and I walked out shaking my head.  I like the weather, but am not ready to be here, in this place, yet.  A potential future? Yes. For now, I am happy to visit, enjoy the weather and return to New Jersey.  The day will come, but happily, not for many years.