Thursday, October 13, 2011


One of the things that has surprised me about retirement is how many things have needed replacing during this period in our life. I’m not talking about my body here, because it’s understood it will gradually wither, but we thought we went into retirement pretty well set up as far as decent and suitable furniture, clothing, autos, electronics and so forth. In fact, in 1998 when some of the furniture we bought for our house in Orange many years earlier needed replacing, I looked at Jerry and said, “Jer, if you want to go into retirement with a good recliner, now’s the time to get it…the recliner of your dreams.”

He did, and that particular recliner started getting heavy use when we retired for good in 2000. Luckily it had been Lazy Boy’s best, and it served him well. He got a good 13 years of use out of it, but when springs began breaking recently and caused him to sit in a sump and left him with a backache, it was time to get a new one.

The need to replace his chair was very surprising to Jerry. Lazy Boy’s best was going to last him the rest of his life, he thought. And when he found his favorite old recliner heading for the dump, he got mighty discouraged.

Jer really thought he wasn’t going to live much beyond the age of 70 or 72. He thought our cars would outlast him (a 1989 Olds and a 1988 Mazda). I had my doubts if they would last for 25 years, but Jerry’s folks always got 25 years out of their cars, and Jer planned on same. So when those two cars fell apart 2 years after we retired (and when I say “fell apart” I mean stopped in the middle of the freeway and never ran another day!) he realized our retirement budget just wasn’t set with the idea of replacement cars in mind. And the furniture was the same way.

Periodically in these last few years we’ve had to replace things that shouldn’t have come to the end of their life cycle so soon. Other than the cars and the recliner, most of the other stuff has been –- on the major side, computers, printers, scanners, cell phones and a digital camera -- and on the minor side it has been things like toasters, coffee pots, room fans, and telephones. All of these come with a built-in obsolescence, so we are just at the mercy of the manufacturers. You’d expect a coffeepot to last longer than 18 months, and we’d like to think we could get one repaired, but repair costs more than a replacement, so there you are.

Now I admit to choosing to replace some of my cooking equipment. I probably could have finished out my life with what I had, but when we were living in our house doing lots of entertaining I had good kitchen stuff, and it has lasted as only a set of Le Creuset pots and pans could. The catch is I most often cooked for 8 or 10 people and I had BIG pots and pans. Now I’m cooking on a tiny 4 burner apartment-sized range, and one frying pan takes up the whole top of the stove. I finally have started replacing the good stuff with some off-the-rack pots and pans that suit a meal for 2.

I haven’t yet given away the food processor or the blender, but to be honest with you I can’t use them because there is no counter space to speak of. At any rate, I think it's about time for them to give up the ghost, too. and replacement would be foolish.

The big surprise in retirement is that so many things would need replacing. But we are truly lucky nothing but “house things” have had to be replaced; and like the reclining chair, everything has been “do-able.” And I must say our children have often surprised us with things they themselves sensed we should have. We’ve had wonderful gifts at birthdays and holidays that have helped us along.

Jerry and I still have most of our own body parts, though our eyes, ears and teeth seem a bit rickety. But so far all replacements have been for house “things” - no knees, heart valves, lungs, etc. For that we are most grateful.

I’m sure other things will bite the dust before long, although we do have one replacement scheduled for the near future. It’s a Security screen door. We have what I call an “el cheepo” on there now, and it is good enough to keep out the flies but not to provide the kind of security we’d feel more comfortable with – a screen door you couldn’t tear off the hinges with a swift kick!

Assuming the new coffee pot doesn’t fall apart in the next month or so, I think we’ll pop for a new screen door and call it our Christmas present to ourselves. Isn’t that the way we often justify an outlay of our hard-earned money? Works for me!

1 comment:

Olga said...

I have found that there are things I lived my whole without that now I need--a jar opener gadget, a bagel slicer. So many things just don't last. My mother lived into her 90's. She owned two vacuum cleaners her whole adult life. I can't even count how many I've gone through because I run out of fingers.