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In happier economic times, many folks reached a day when they were able to walk away from work due to a decision that they made.  I made mine 15 years ago during this same year end period.  After a 32 year career with the General Electric Company, I requested a retirement offer at age 57 and got my wish.  

As it was, I had burned the mortgage on my suburban home, watched the last of my three children graduate from college and managed to "pay myself first" my entire working career that resulted in a nice IRA that would take care of me comfortably for the rest of my life.  The offer included full health care coverage and make up monies in my pension until I reached Social Security age.  And, of course, a nice bonus was put in the package to make my "golden parachute" worth while. 

It was sad, on that last day I went to work, to walk around the huge GE plant that made aircraft engines that had been my home away from home for most of those years. I thought of the people I had befriended, projects I worked on and the satisfaction that came from doing work that I considered important.  We had made the engines that propelled the aircraft of the world, annealed the rocket cases that sent men to the moon and provided the military with a means of defending the American way of life. 

But now I could live my life for me (my wife included) and not for some traditional concept of family and doing the right thing.  My kids would succeed or fail based on their own actions.  I couldn't help them much anymore, except with moral support and financially from time to time.

The 15 years have been great as I have established the life of a snowbird, living cold months in the Florida sunshine where I can be active in outdoor activities and spending summers in Northern Kentucky where I can devote a bit with time with family.  I also live across the street from the golf course. 

It is sad to see that many Americans won't be able to enjoy the pleasures of a comfortable retirement.  It has been my observation workers hold on to their jobs for dear life for fear of running out of money to provide for needs.  I have also observed that companies are no longer as generous in retirement bonus packages.  An indication of this trend is that about one third of the homes in my Florida retirement community have "For Sale" signs in the front yard, with no buyers in sight despite ridiculously low offering prices.

A few blogs back, I questioned the American dream and what has happened to it over the years.  Is the dream of voluntary retirement also being lost or maybe replaced?  I may be a dinosaur. 

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Comment by Mandy Muffin on December 29, 2012 at 9:17am

When I spent a month in China, studying their culture, I was especially taken by the respect and care that the Chinese give their older workers.  The normal retirement age was 55 and most older citizens expected the state to provide ample benefits to make their lives enjoyable.  The Chinese culture is such that children expect their parents to live with them until their demise.  They are give a place of respect in the household. The same was true in past generation in America, as my grandparents lived with us for a period of time. 

Comment by Grammie Sue on December 29, 2012 at 8:48am

Yes the American dream has changed.  We are a couple who hold on to my husbands job with dear life.  I was given a free ride to Bible College last year so when I finish this may I will try to find a job.  At my age the only one hiring may be Wall-mart but money is money.  911 and the last four years economy is what did us in. Our retirement is much less than we had hoped for.  But we believe God will provide no matter what.  

Comment by Mandy Muffin on December 29, 2012 at 8:03am

Alas, ChelseaLad died and I did with my canine friend.  You can't blog as a dead dog.  But the replacement, Mandy Muffin, is alive and doing well, although the dog has some special needs (maybe I'll blog on them some day). The avatar is an actual muffin. Some may consider West Highland White Terriers to be generic, but after owning four and breeding one, they are all as unique as people.  On the other hand muffins are quite generic, except those that are over-baked. Some would say that about me also, but I go on.  I have written over three thousand blogs over the past few years and I will continue until somebody tells me to stop.  Mostly I have outlasted the social networks that I have used to display my humble musings.    

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