What will you do in your retirement?

Those who know me well know that I’m not a fan of Chinese food.  Chalk it up to brainwashing as a child or closed mindedness, but whatever the reason, there are only a few dishes that I can say I truly enjoy, and only those made in a place that I know is clean.

This phobia of mine has, unfortunately, been reinforced when seeing “behind the scenes” while working, at many a call for service to certain establishments. These experiences have inhibited my ability to override the gag reflex that surfaces as soon as I walk in the door, so most times, I try to avoid these places without being rude.

On the flipside, Pusateri’s, which is a very high end grocery store in Toronto, was closed due to poor sanitary conditions, and I had no problem going there.  Wonder how I would have felt if I worked in that division and had seen their back room?

Anyway, last weekend, we were invited to an event at a Chinese restaurant that I didn’t want to miss, and I am so pleased to have put my own silliness aside.

The food was actually not bad, but what made the evening so spectacular was the company.  Not only was my heart touched beyond words, I also had a few laughs and was reacquainted with some fantastic people—one gentleman, in particular.

I had met him once or twice at one retirement or another many years ago. I believe he was, if not the first, at least one of the first Chinese officers in the city of Toronto.  I remember being impressed with him then, but had forgotten why exactly.  Now retired himself, he and his wife sat at our table and we had a chance to chat.

This wonderful man exemplified the good that is in all people. He has filled his retirement plate to full and is enjoying a new and wonderful life with his wife.  Retirement truly can be the best time of life, when one can expand and grow exponentially.  He has taken up Tai Chi, enrolled in Mandarin language classes (Cantonese is his mother tongue), volunteers, when needed, as a translator at his local hospital, and most admirably, visits with men who are alone and isolated due to language or physical limitations.

It’s always so much easier and more common for women to visit with shut-ins, and although the need is great, very few men volunteer to fill this need, which is sad because many men, especially when there is a language barrier, are desperate for male company.

I was very touched by our conversation and managed to keep my composure until he said these words to me.

“Patricia, you know policemen sometimes only see good guys and bad guys, but forget that there are so many people in between.  It is so much better and richer to give than to receive and I feel very lucky to have a chance to do this.  I am growing everyday.”

(At that point, I wanted to wrap him up and bring him home)

I applaud this man for all the good he is doing.  He had a rewarding career and yet has found the greatest joy in his retirement in the giving of himself for others.

When we know of someone who is lonely, we should all try, retired or not, to find a few minutes to visit with them.  There is great joy that comes from giving of ourselves to someone who needs us.  It’s what saved me.  Imagine what it could do for the world if we all gave a little bit more!

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