Terence C. Gannon, originally posted on Medium.

I had breakfast with a friend of mine not too long ago and our conversation turned to, as it often does with those hovering around the 60 year mark, to the subject of retirement. That started with a passing comment about my father who had recently entered his 90th year, as he fondly and often tells us. “I sometimes wonder,” I said, “if my parents had known they were going to live this long if they would have organized their lives any differently.”

My grandparents were, for the most part, gone in their late sixties or early seventies. Only my mother’s mother just made it to her late seventies but she was the last of that generation in our family by a long shot. So my parents, roughly 25-to-30 years their junior had little to go by other than, most likely, they had roughly 25-to-30 years to live. At the same time their children — my generation — would be thinking they had 50 years if they thought about it all. Which we didn’t, in our invincible, indestructible teens and twenties.

As my mother and father retired in their early sixties they might have thought of making the best of the ten years they were almost guaranteed to have together, short of accident or illness. Anything beyond that would be an unexpected bonus, and therefore an unplanned one. I’m not suggesting this was a conscious, daily thought, but if they planned decades at all, I believe they were only planning for one. In reality, they were embarking on nearly three. So far. Ironically, they would only know their guess was wrong when it was proven to be so and likely too late to do much about it.

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