Peggy Sanders: Deciding when to retire comes down to one question
How does a person decide when it’s time to retire from a chosen profession? Age can certainly be a factor — either because of infirmity or because of eligibility for social security or Medicare. Or, as I’ve been told a deciding factor can be when the job is no longer fun.
At a recent gathering of Western Writers of America I visited with a former pediatrician who practiced for 33 years in Texas. During that time, his patients grew up and continued to come to him for medical needs. One day a young person who had been his patient since he was a baby, and was now in his early twenties, came in again about his depression. As he recounted the various problems, most of which the doctor had heard multiple times, the pediatrician realized that in his head he was saying, “blah, blah, blah,” as the patient continued. That was the day he decided he needed to retire and within a few months every thing was arranged, and he did. He sold his practice, sold his house under contract within four days and had a new home built in another town in just four months. Then he moved.
He related one of his house call, with a twist, stories to me. Since children seem to get sick most frequently at night or on weekends, he kept a stash of medicines at his house. Whenever a kid got sick in off-duty hours, the sick one and a parent would come to the doc’s home, get checked out and receive enough medicine to get them through until the office re-opened. That is service, and practical at that.
Another case in point was closer to home for me. My husband always said when running cows was no longer fun, he would quit. One 20 below zero night in February four years ago, calving was going full force.
Russ went to check cows in the middle of the cold night and found a wet, cold newborn calf.
He needed to bring the calf in for me to warm up. Using towels to rub and stimulate the calf and a hair dryer to help dry her off, a calf can be helped to live. There was one problem in particular. Several years ago Russ had injured his hand and has some arthritis in both hands, consequently he has little grip. Add a wet, cold calf to the mix and there was a tremendous struggle to get the calf loaded into the pickup.
Once he got the calf over by the house, I held the door open for the calf “deposit.” When Russ put her down, he said, “That’s it. We are selling the cows. It is not fun any more.”
We were fortunate to have our older son buy the cattle and we could continue to watch the bloodlines and the progress of the years of work. Now instead of farming and ranching, we are solely farmers. Though the days are still long and the work is still hard, so far, farming is still fun. ❖