Every Saturday morning my dad calls and we talk for about an hour. I love the example he is giving me of what a great retirement can be.
My dad is an 85-year-old, retired Seattle Fire Fighter living his best life in Scottsdale, Arizona. Every morning he is up before the sun between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m.
Each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday he rides his bicycle by himself over 20 miles to Tempe and back. He has various routes on the bike trails but usually stops for a coffee mid-way at a local Starbucks near the college. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays he lifts weights in the gym provided by his community for at least 30 minutes and then swims laps in the pool for about an hour. Then he takes a soak in the hot tub and then – he calls me.
He always says, “It’s your old dad in the Valley of the Sun.” He gives me the temperature and puts himself on FaceTime. He is always in his swim trunks sitting on a lawn chair by the pool. I can hear the birds, see the clear blue sky, the palm trees and greenery in the background.
I usually show him the rain and the gray outside because our temperature is usually about 30 to 50 degrees cooler.
My dad is not only physically active but before the pandemic, he served in his church community, worked at the food bank and visited friends in the local nursing home. He loves to help others and spends time assisting his neighbors when they need assistance.
While COVID has really limited by dad and his wife’s travels recently, up until this year, they would make an annual trip for at least two months to Europe starting in September. They have been traveling in Europe in the fall nearly every year for the past 25+ years. They usually lease a car and tour the French countryside staying at their favorite bed and breakfasts, monasteries, and castles. Sometimes they take side trips to visit friends in various places including England, Belgium, and Germany. Early in their marriage, they went to Spain and Portugal. They especially love French culture, history, and the food and wine. My stepmother lived and worked in France for many years (before she married my dad after my mom’s passing) and is fluent in the language. She does a fantastic job as a travel planner for their itinerary and Daddy drives the car.
I hope this isn’t the last time that they get to go to Europe but with the pandemic raging and Paris just recently instituting a curfew, it doesn’t appear that they’ll be traveling anytime soon. But I guess you can always improvise. This morning on our weekly call, Daddy told me that he found a new French restaurant that opened up recently near his home. Yesterday, he made reservations and as a surprise took his wife for a late lunch. They had french bread, delicious fish, mussels, and a bottle of wine.
I have an incredible example in my dad for what it means to have a healthy, rewarding, and fun retirement. I’m planning to spend a Saturday with Daddy in person after I’ve retired in the spring. I want to take that bike ride with him to Starbucks!