June 30, 2012 marked the first day of my sister-in-law’s official retirement from her job at a private Long Island university. She had, at various points in her no less than stellar career, been a distinguished post-grad finance professor, an associate dean, a vice dean, a board member of various organizations, a finance consultant, guest speaker/lecturer in international conferences, and even published quite a few research papers and analyses in popular financial journals. Through all this, she got married, raised a child, and managed to be quite the culinary in-the-know among family and friends. Imagine the lovely roast goose for thanksgiving, or the finger-licking-lots-of-rice-needed curries. Hmm. Delish!
Back in the days of our parents, the mere mention of retirement brought on a strange souring of moods. And more so for those who have had such active and engaged lives. In the 90’s, they predicted that baby boomers will reinvent retirement, just as they reinvented everything else, from families with more than two parents, SUVs and carpooling, neighborhood watches, do-it-yourself home and garden renovations, the credit card, and multiple careers. The list goes on and on. As more and more baby boomers retire, I seriously doubt that we’ll be seeing a rise in rocking chair sales. Not a chance!
Throughout her personal life and her career, my sister-in-law has always pursued the truth, no matter how unpleasant, inconvenient, or stinging. She prided herself in maintaining high ethical standards and she lived by her teachings. At this point, she can look back with great satisfaction in her achievements, the students she has coached and mentored, numerous awards, and the respect she has garnered in the finance community. To us, her family, she is the “ate,” (pronounced Ah-teh, big sister in Tagalog), who has kept everyone anchored whenever there was a family crisis. She is wife to Ferdie and mother to Justine. Always will be.
Merle arrived in the United States just when the Women’s Movement was in full swing. With the backdrop of Betty Friedan‘s book (The Feminine Mystique), the Civil Rights Act, the Equal Rights Amendment, and Gloria Steinem‘s rise as Ms. Magazine‘s editor and co-founder, to name a few, women were in a good position to pursue their ambitions outside the house, the nursery, and the kitchen. And boy, did they reinvent women’s roles in just about everything! Well, Merle adapted ‘equal rights for all’ as her mantra. On the eve of her retirement from teaching, she takes on the chair of the board of a non-profit women’s rights think-tank in DC. How fitting!
So, what next, Merle? After the frenzied middle years of work, study, marriage, raising a daughter, juggling family events, publishing research papers, one would think that you might be saying, “Wait a minute! Maybe, just maybe, I took too big a bite. It’s not as fun as I thought.” Perhaps, but not for you. You have always known how to strike the balance. That there is more to life than the rat race, having perfect lives and kids, or a branded address. You have also always taken full-on challenges with characteristic aplomb. But then, you’re at the point in your life where you know this all to be true. Yours is a time when you have become you again. You’re no longer barely keeping things together. This is that denouement everyone in your time did not realize existed until you got there, so well deservedly. The sweet landing when most commitments are concluded, there’s not a lot to tie you down, and there’s just this entire horizon of possibilities within your view. It’s not the end of your story yet. They’re still all there—the friends, the family, the adventures, the reinventions.
You’re not done yet. I don’t think so. The best is yet to be!
- We Have to Stop Talking About “Having It All” (ideas.time.com)
- How TV Tackles Taboo Female Topics (huffingtonpost.com)
- Baby Boomer Retirement – The Potential Impact on Valuations (retiringboomer.wordpress.com)
- Blogging Boomer Carnival #265 (boomersurvive-thriveguide.typepad.com)