We’re in the midst of the Great Retirement. About three million extra workers retired due to COVID. Their main motive, though, is not health-related. Most are looking for more time with family and friends and more opportunities to travel. 

I can relate. I spend a lot of time with kids and grandsons. I keep the 4-year-old and the 1-year-old alive for two hours every Wednesday. I also dipped my toes in the Atlantic and the Pacific in the space of two weeks. 

Many, though, have fears about retiring. Their biggest fear is running out of money. They’re also afraid of losing their health insurance. As a result, I have friends who come out of retirement as frequently as prizefighters.

Just as they finish one career, they embark on another. Some simply miss the structure and camaraderie of the workplace. Others have turned an artistic outlet into a source of income. Besides money worries, people fear they will become bored and isolated. 

I’m rarely bored and never feel isolated. Every time I make a purchase online, or visit a Walgreen’s, I’m bombarded with friendly emails. I also receive phone calls from all over the country. Most come with a warning, “Potential Spam.”

One of the perks of retirement is that you can get up whenever you want. I’m usually awake by 8:30. At this ungodly hour, it takes two cups of coffee to get me going. Then I eat a hearty breakfast. Having bacon, eggs and toast helps me reach my daily cholesterol requirement. 

Then I make the bed. I make the covers so tight, you could bounce a quarter off the bed, if we still carried quarters. Now that the bed is made, it’s a comfy place to read a book. I’m currently reading one by a guy from Oak Park.

He became an ambulance driver during World War I and was wounded. He stayed on in Paris and joined a “lost generation” of writers, artists and musicians. We have much in common as writers. He penciled his stories in Paris cafes. I type my stories in a laundry room. The only time I’m truly disturbed is when the washer starts rocking during the spin cycle. 

Speaking of which, I’m now an expert at washing clothes. After I finish a few loads, you’d think I’d be tired from the breakneck pace of my day. But it’s dangerous to nap during the day because it could disrupt my sleep schedule. I prefer siestas. These are also brief periods of sleep but only take place after satisfying meals.

After the siesta, it’s time to prepare a satisfying dinner. I purchase fresh ingredients and cook like we’re still feeding four kids. After cleaning up the kitchen, it’s time for another siesta. Evenings are spent watching a healthy dose of sports on TV. 

Another fear people have of retiring is their health will decline. As long as I stick to an unhealthy diet and avoid exercise, I’ll remain in good shape. There’s going to be a new wrinkle, though, to my retirement. My wife will soon be joining me. 

I hope she still lets me make the bed.

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.