Monthly Archives: June 2020

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June 8 – Seeds of Retirement

by Ariela Zucker

For years the thoughts of growing old were as far from my mind as the terminology that goes along with the ‘golden years.’ Yes, people around me became old, got sick even died. I was sad, contemplated the cycle of life, nodded my head in all the right places, but never until the last few years did I see myself as part of this inevitable process.  Perhaps it is universal, the false notion that we can avoid somehow what happens to everyone around us.

At age fifty, I opted to take early retirement, and the transition went without any significant obstacles.  I managed to avoid the need to stop working, my health was excellent, and the plans many. By the time I reached Social Security age, a few years later, I was self-employed as I still am, without plans to stop working anytime soon.

Over the years, my husband and I stopped now and then to discuss our retirement years. We agreed that as responsible adults, we should plant some seeds for those years when retirement will become unavoidable.

These discussions were always a bit somber, somewhat depressing, and we were happy to pretend that all issues were discussed and resume our daily life.

With each passing year, though, the ‘what ifs’ become harder and harder to push down. I began to realize a new thought pattern when three years ago, we reclaimed our private home a few hours to the south and turned it into our winter residence.

“Closer to the kids, ” was the official reason, but the truth was that the winters in our motel became harder and harder.

“We like town living with all the amenities,” was another sentence we used frequently. Less snow shoveling and the closeness of several area hospitals was what we said to ourselves when we got ‘real.’

We rehabbed the house to meet our future needs. That meant relocating the bedroom to the first floor (next to the bathroom) to create a one-floor living. The next move will be to move the washer and dryer from the basement to the main floor to complete this arrangement.

We planned the second floor now used only for guests, so it will become an independent unit with private entrance because “who knows, one day we might need a living aid.”

In the middle of the night, sleep often evades me. Instead of counting sheep, I run in my head all the extra resources we put aside for the days that we will need to live entirely on social security. These thoughts are far from calming.

The other day I said to my husband, “We should do it now, as long as we still can,” and at that moment, I knew, this is it, the seeds of retirement have germinated, and they are in full bloom.

Ariela Zucker was born in Israel. She and her husband left sixteen years ago and now reside in Ellsworth Maine where they run a Mom and Pop motel. Ariela blogs regularly and this post first appeared at Paper Dragon.

June 1 – Twiggy’s Eye

by Sara Etgen-Baker

In 1968, go-go boots, mini-skirts, and the mod Twiggy look were in style. Like most teenage girls of that time, I wanted to be fashionable, but I knew Mother would never agree to my wearing flashy go-go boots or bearing my knees in some mini-skirt. My best option was convincing her to allow me to wear makeup and have the much sought after “Twiggy Eyes.”

I begged and pleaded with my mother to allow me to wear makeup, but she firmly believed that no 16-year-old girl should wear makeup. Her response always was, “No, ma’am! Only ‘ladies of the night’ wear makeup.” My solution: Not eat lunch at school and save my lunch money until I had enough money to purchase makeup at the corner drugstore.

And so I did. Every day for a month, I stashed my lunch money inside a secret compartment inside my purse. For 30 days, I suffered from hunger pains in the afternoon and even lost weight with Mother never questioning either my hunger or my sudden weight loss. No matter. I was willing to suffer to have my own makeup. Finally, I’d saved enough money, and one day stopped at the corner drugstore on the way home from school and purchased the makeup, hiding it in the deep crevices of my purse.

When I arrived at school each morning, I went in the restroom and put on my makeup achieving the Twiggy Eyes I yearned for. Before going home each afternoon, I went into the school restroom and with a swipe or two of makeup remover, my Twiggy Eyes vanished, and Mother was none the wiser.

My plan worked beautifully until the day I fell in gym class and broke my ankle. Mother was called to pick me up from school. When she arrived she found me lying on a stretcher on the gym floor with my left ankle twisted to one side, broken in several places. She looked at my ankle and then turned sharply, staring at my face. “What’s that on your face?” she questioned with irritation and disappointment in her voice, and I knew I’d betrayed her trust.

We drove in silence to the doctor’s office where he set my broken ankle in a plaster cast. Once at home, I was told to hand over my makeup, and I watched teary-eyed as she tossed it in the trash.

“Never try such stunt like that with me ever again. You hear me?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

I never again tried such a mistrustful stunt with my mother. Just for the record, Mother grounded me for three months.

A teacher’s unexpected whisper, “You’ve got writing talent,” ignited Sara’s writing desire. Sara ignored that whisper and pursued a different career but eventually, she re-discovered her inner writer and began writing. 

Her manuscripts have been published in anthologies and magazines including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Guideposts, Times They Were A Changing, and Wisdom Has a Voice.