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Written by: Mary Ann Winters
Date: July 14, 2015

View from inside a car with rear-view mirror.

Photo: Flickr/ Travel by Moyan Brenn

A mere seven months into retirement, I found myself facing an unexpected surgery for total right hip replacement.  The recovery is a story within itself.  Today, I simply want to share my perspective around some of the new challenges that seem to accompany the aging process; and the alternatives I’ve applied to this adjustment in my life.

As an older adult traveling solo, I recently encountered new challenges with air travel.  If a direct flight is available, it can be very enjoyable.  When a connecting flight is involved, you are likely to find yourself in a terminal with 4 elevators, a 30 minute walk, and a train ride between your arrival and departure gates.  Experiencing connecting flights through Detroit and Atlanta recently, I resorted to wheelchair assistance to arrive at the gate just in time.  That sort of support is a wonderful convenience and I can’t say enough about the kindness of all those who thoughtfully helped me. The only negative was the bruising of my pride; self-reliance has been my mantra.

As the driver or passenger, I now find car trips more convenient and relaxing.  When a stop is needed for reasons such as bathroom, food, stretching or reorganization, the next roadway exit is available within a reasonable amount of time.  While enjoying such a trip with high school friends earlier this year, my assigned seat was behind the driver in their spacious vehicle.  I was quite comfortable and even entertained with an overhead DVD player.  What better way to enjoy those Downton Abbey episodes again?

Another challenge includes activities.  I was never much of an athlete; but I have enjoyed golf, on and off again, through the years.  Maturity has helped me adjust to a game without much improvement.   My eyes have now opened to nature and the blessing of outdoor exercise with a patient partner. My mother would be so pleased.  She loved golf and played into her late 70’s, adding a few more years with her Senior Putt-Putt Golf League.

Raised as an Air Force Brat, celebrating the 4th of July required curbside seats at parades and fireworks. Somehow, over the past five years, a paradigm shift has occurred.  Now, I am just as delighted to enjoy my favorite program, the PBS patriotic Capitol Fourth, from my comfy chair, with air conditioning, a clean restroom and a complete kitchen just a few feet away.

The challenge I wrestle with most is the best use of my time.  As we age, it takes on new significance and value.  If I’m spending time with you these days, it’s because you mean a lot to me.  Family, friends and hobbies can fill the days of a retiree.  For me, volunteer opportunities receive the same scrutiny I would apply to employment; is it worth my time – will I impact others in a positive way?

Blogging for Next Avenue Cbus certainly enriches my life and I welcome any comments you’d like to share.