“They don’t make men like Maynard anymore.”
These words could have been uttered by everyone who attended his funeral. His skills and love for life were clear to anyone who knew him. Maynard was so good with machines, it was rumored he could repair a tractor with his eyes closed. He could bake a homemade pie without a recipe. A deep belly-laugh would always follow one of his signature practical jokes. Yes, Maynard loved living.
Maynard lived a good life. He and his bride Ruby Ann lovingly cared for his Keezletown homestead farm for many of those years. But his life was not without pain, as is the case for all of us. The child Ruby Ann delivered died shortly after birth, and the couple never experienced the beauty of parenthood. No T-ball games, school plays, or teenage drivers. Nonetheless, life was abundant and they planned a long life together. Maynard likely dreamed of spending his retirement years with his two greatest loves: His farm and his Ruby Ann.
But large farms need many hands to tend them, or they become a burden. He may have seen the day of the sale coming for a long time. Ruby Ann’s cancer, however, caught him completely by surprise. In a few short years, both of his loves were gone. His vision of retirement was quickly falling apart. How would Maynard respond? Would he give up and give in to loneliness? Or would he keep seeking an abundant life?
There are two parties in every real estate transaction. When Maynard sold his beloved farm, Emily’s family sat across the closing table. Her mom dreamed of horses, and her dad dreamed of giving mom the same joy that Maynard had experienced for decades. When they signed the papers, Maynard made one simple request, “May I come back for the next few months to tend my garden? I am known for my tomatoes.”
It was true. Maynard’s garden was famous for its juicy heirloom tomatoes. He soon found out the best relationships are formed over BLTs. Conversations are better after a hard day’s work.
Emily‘s family increased in size that summer. For 16 years, Maynard visited the farm several times per week and was always willing to lift a helping hand, or to bake an apple pie. He truly lived out his retirement in a way that was meaningful to him and in a way that greatly benefited the new family.
While his passing many years later was sudden and unexpected, his last day on earth was complete with the things he loved most: hard work, close friends, and good food.
Everyone has a vision for retirement, so why was Maynard’s retirement perfect for him? The answer to this question can help you design the ideal retirement for yourself and for your spouse.
He succeeded in retirement for three reasons. Every fulfilling retirement must have these three elements:
Structure: The hay needs to be cut every summer. The animals need to be fed every day. The family is always excited to enjoy a fresh-baked pie. The ongoing needs of the farm, which may be seen as a burden to some, served as a sense of security for Maynard. With regular ongoing maintenance, the to-do list provided him with a sense of order and accomplishment.
Community: God did not intend us to live in isolation. Maynard found community in his new family, and he found a sense of satisfaction and well-being by teaching and caring for them.
Purpose: This new family needed someone to show them the ropes on the farm. Someone had to teach them everything that Maynard’s father had taught him. I believe Maynard had a sense of purpose in passing along this valuable information enabling his family legacy to continue.
Retirement should be spent with people you love. If your retirement does not include all of these three important elements, you will experience regret. Structure, community, and purpose may mean something very different to you than they meant to Maynard. Everyone should have a clear vision for retirement. How about you? What steps will you take today to plan a retirement that fills you up with joy and brings smiles to the people you love?
Now is the time to plan a confident, fulfilling retirement. We will be honored to meet with you and your family to discuss what is most important, and to help you gain structure, community, and purpose in your retirement. To schedule a 15-minute phone call, please click here.