Photo Credit: K. Rummer

What I’ve Noticed About Retirement So Far

10 Observations from Year Three

by Ken Rummer

1. Getting the hang of retirement takes time.

People told me it would take a year and a half. Retirement did start to feel less awkward about then. But even now, in my third year of retirement, I’m not sure I’ve fully adjusted to it.

2. I’m grateful I don’t have to do it alone.

The teacher and the seminarian, we started out with $700 between us. And here we are, living into retirement together. I count it a comfort and a great blessing.

3. Sorting is hard.

Heading into retirement, it was hard to know what to pack and what to leave behind. Would this retiring pastor need the books, the robe, the suits? The answers at this point: “Some of them,” “yes and “not so far.”

 4. I feel a little guilty that I get to live without going to work.

My neighbors head out to jobs every morning, and I don’t have to get up at any particular time. Monthly money shows up in my checkbook anyway. Can that be right?

5. A bit of routine helps.

The prospect of an empty calendar looked like heaven when mine was overfilled. Now, in retirement, not so much. So I’ve placed some stepping stones to mark a path through the month: Church on Sunday mornings, choir practice on Wednesdays, woodworkers club on second Tuesdays, writing group on first and third Mondays.

6. Grandparenting is a great gig, but it takes a lot of energy.

 Who knew that my first name would turn out to be C’mon? Now I know why my grandmother preferred playing games with us on a card table rather than on the floor. But what a gift to watch the grands growing into themselves.

7. Music still works in retirement.

Catching my granddaughter singing “Rain, Rain, Go Away” brings a smile. Hearing my son-in-law bend a bluesy guitar riff picks me up. Touching ears and hearts with my violin? Still deep magic.

8. Retirement comes with its own fears.

Will the money last? Will home invaders target our house? Will the dying be long, or soon? Will I get to keep my marbles? Will I remember where I put them? Will civilization hold together? Will I? Will I be able to figure out how to use my next phone?

9. Church is important to me, even when I’m not the pastor.

Not on the payroll, I’m still showing up on Sunday mornings. That phrase in the hymn, that line from the sermon, that smile during the welcoming — if I weren’t there, I would miss out on those moments when God’s light shines through.

10. A snowblower might not be such a bad idea.

What I formerly judged to be a wimp-out surrender to decadence and luxury, is looking more and more like a prudent investment in cardiac safety and frostbite prevention. Maybe I’ll watch for a sale.

Ken Rummer, a retired Presbyterian pastor, writes about life and faith from the middle of Iowa by the High Trestle Trail. His previous posts are available at