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Mom’s Retirement, 1998, Age 62

Life.

The natural ebb and flow.

Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

Change is in the air.

I feel like I’ve been particularly introspective this week, in a good way. Having made a huge, life-changing decision, it seems rather fitting. After 27 years, I left the only company I’ve ever worked for as an adult… 27 years. A lifetime. But it was time. Beyond time, probably.

Paralyzed by What Ifs

By nature, I’m not a risk taker. For most of my 48 years, I’ve played it safe. Followed the rules. Colored inside the lines. Did what the world expected. I haven’t taken a lot of chances. Until now.

Mom’s Retirement Party

Seeing my mom suffer the ravages of Alzheimer’s for the better part of a decade. Watching as this disease robbed her of the opportunity to live the retirement she had planned and prepared for so carefully. Friends, travel, the “golden years” we all dream of experiencing someday – for Mom, it wasn’t meant to be.

The lesson is simple – “someday” isn’t promised. For years, I’ve been saying I needed a change. “I’m going to do this” and “I’m going to do that.” But it was all talk and no action. Fear of the unknown always got the best of me. What if it doesn’t work out? What if I fail? What if, what if, what if? Ah, but what if becoming complacent is the real peril?

If my mom had known her fate when she was my age, would she have done anything differently? It’s impossible to say. I suspect she may have taken that Alaskan cruise or gone to Italy rather than putting those dream vacations off until “someday.”

Striking a Balance

Ultimately, there has to be a balance between living for today and preparing for tomorrow. I voluntarily walked away from the “sure thing” to embark on the unknown. To be honest, I still can’t believe I did it. And more than anything, I can’t believe how easy the decision was.

For that, I have to thank my mom. Gone 18 months, yet she is still teaching me about life. It may sound cliché, but I know she’s been guiding me throughout the decision making process. More than once, I told myself I was crazy and tried like hell to talk myself out of the change – but without fail, there was an unexplainable pull back toward taking that leap of faith.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was apprehensive. Change is scary. However, more than anything I’m filled with hope and anticipation. I don’t remember the last time I felt so excited or had such a positive outlook. I’m going to a company whose mission is right in line with my passion – what I do will have a direct impact on providing affordable housing for seniors. I feel like the possibilities are endless and the future is bright.

The Lessons Keep Coming

That’s my mama!

Perhaps there’s a reason I never took the leap before; maybe this was the opportunity that was meant to be. There are a lot of things in life I don’t know, but the one thing I’m certain of is that dealing with Alzheimer’s has profoundly changed my life.

I sweat the small stuff much less than I used to. I take greater joy in the simple things. Those I love, I love deeply and unconditionally, I try to make a difference in the world every day, I pick my battles, and I constantly remind myself that tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Finally, I’m learning it’s okay to color outside the lines…

Thanks Mom…

 

 

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