By the time you read this, I’ll be gone – from Missouri Farm Bureau, that is. After 35 years of reporting on the radio and writing for newspapers, it is time to give my wheezing voice and arthritic typing fingers a rest, something some feel would have been more effective had I done so 35 years ago.
Oh, I’ll still be doing radio market reports, and perhaps some future contributions to this column. I have noticed the older I get the more opinionated I become, and I must have an outlet for these opinions besides my poor wife, but if I had known how difficult it was to jump through all the hoops necessary to retire I would still be employed.
First you have to do some homework to determine how much income you will have upon retirement. Then you must determine how much retirement income you will really need. Guess which is the much larger figure? The realization there is no way you will ever have enough money saved to afford retirement is a sobering experience; in my case, it took me three days to get sober.
In the end you just cast your financial concerns to the wind and decide to retire anyway. Next you must select the date. At first I thought about retiring at age 65, but realized my Social Security would not be at full capacity until I turned 66. Once 66, I picked a date that would coincide with my employment anniversary, but realized if I put it off just one more year I could retire with an exact 35 years to the day. Perfect!
Not perfect! As my retirement date approached I was asked to stay on an extra week or so to give my employer time to find a replacement, and after that to stay on a couple weeks more to give additional time to find a replacement. My ego told me it was because I was so irreplaceable, but quite the contrary. In reality, there were so many qualified applicants my supervisor could not wade through the hiring process any faster.
Then there is the retirement party, loved by everyone except the retiree. All employees come to the assembly hall for ten minutes of sharing embarrassing memories about the retiree, followed by ten minutes of talking about how the retiree walked on water, and finalized with a ten-minute emotional speech by the retiree. Afterwards, there is cake and ice cream for all.
Make no mistake; the large turnout at your retirement party is not as much a reflection of your popularity as it is about ice cream, cake and a 30-minute break from work. I felt guilty when I declined the retirement party – my co-workers put up with me for 35 years and certainly deserve dessert and a half hour away from their desk as a small reward. I asked Farm Bureau to hold the party for all my friends and coworkers, but just not invite me. It is like attending your own wake.
There is much more to do to prepare for retirement, but enough already. Suffice it to say after all my years of meeting multiple daily deadlines for radio stations and weekly deadlines for newspapers, I suddenly have fewer deadlines facing me. I just wonder how long it will take for me to stop watching the clock for the next deadline I do not have to meet.
There is, of course, one final deadline to meet. While I hope it is not due for quite some time, but when it is I will reflect on all of the wonderful people I was blessed to know, to work with and work for, and to befriend during my career at Missouri Farm Bureau. I am so very thankful for them, each and every one.
(Denny Banister, of Jefferson City, Mo., is now a retiree of the Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization.)