Sage Advice

Today at lunch I went to sit on a bench by the river to read my book. It turned out not to be very engaging, so I was happy to be distracted when the woman pulled up on an old men’s 10-speed bicycle and plopped herself next to me.

She shook her wild tangle of white hair and smiled at me. “What a perfect day!” she pronounced with a slight British accent.

She was slim and lively. Her face was beautifully lined; her dark brown eyes sparkled. She wore a plaid short-sleeved shirt, bicycle shorts and (quirkily) shiny bronze-coloured slippers and a small diamond pierced into one nostril. Her tanned legs were strong, smooth and firm; at odds with her face.

We chatted a bit. We found out we have the same birthday. She’s going to be 78 on hers. She’s never had a major illness, takes no medication, eats sparingly and spends as much time as possible outdoors.

She advised me to retire as soon as I possibly could. “The longer and harder and the more you work, the  more money you think you need.” She said, before jumping back on her bike.

I thought about that for the few seconds it took me to packed my book away.  But when I turned around to answer her, she was gone.

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33 responses to “Sage Advice

  1. For one moment you crossed over into a parallel universe where you were living your life at 78….you must have entered a portal near the river some where…it happens more than one would think.

  2. Ooh! A visit from the retirement fairy! (Mind you, mine is always wearing a hairy coat, non-matching baffies and muttering to herself. Each to their own.)

  3. Geewits – Weeeelllll, I DO plan to talk with a slight British accent when I’m an old lady, but I’m almost positive I’d never get my nose pierced, but you never know, right?

    Cedar – I’m going back tomorrow to see if I can to through again.

    Julia – It would be really, really great if it was true.

    Charlene/Anonymous – As real as anything else I sometimes encounter when I’m on my own… I think…

    Bandobras – How long did it take you to come up with that punny rejoinder? I’d be happy to be her when I’m 78 – except I probably wouldn’t wear plaid with shiny bronze.

    Jazz – Me too!

    Loth – Ha ha – retirement fairy. It IS a lot damper and cooler in Scotland, which might explain why she’s dressed differently there. The muttering is probably just her practicing her sage advice – so it’s just right when she dishes it out, dontcha know.

    Dr. Monkey – ‘Twas.

    CP – Made my day.

  4. I didn’t suspect for a moment she was not real, but since someone up there in your comments asked, I don’t know… am I too naive and she’s not?? In any case, I have a pierced nose and I was born in 78…the woman in your post was 78 with a pierced nose… today I found out that the secretary at my department that shares my (and almost your) name and mine and yours date of birth is strikingly young, born in 87 young, which is 78 backwards as she promptly pointed out…

    This is not the only striking number phenomenon I have going on, my extension at my office here is the same as the one I had in Ottawa except for one number, what are the odds?? I’ve met this guy I find super cute at another office at school and his extension ends in a strikingly 3 fours, which is my favourite number ever, 444, I’m gonna stop myself here but wherever I look there is a familiar-weird number thing, tons of number stories all around.. am I going crazy and overboard or there is something cosmic going on here?!!

  5. Hmm – retirement. I had a couple of conversations with people about retirement myself today. (I THINK those people were real. At least their French accents were real.) But I like the advice you got a lot better than what I got. I got “You’re planning on working HOW many more years??? You’re older than I thought!”

  6. When people mention their heath (i.e. not needing meds, or never having a serious illness), I take it with a grain of salt.

    It COULD be their lifestyle. Or it could be that they lucked out with some very good genes.

    I know people who’ve spent their entire life eating right, staying healthy and getting plenty of exercise, and yet they STILL get cancer.

    Sometimes it’s just luck of the draw.

  7. It only took me a few moments to eliminate parsley and rosemary and then it was right there. I’m sure that you’ll still dress with exemplary class at whatever age.

  8. I have a nasty suspicion that if you are chief homemaker you are never really retired – or only for the length of a vacation with restaurants. Even then, the laundromat job seems to cling to you. Me, all I am retired from is paid employment. But the lady sounds like a winner.

  9. Jobthingy – How about if I just tell you from her? Is that enough incentive?

    Hallie – I might have, too, except she disappeared!

    Cristina – That’s all very freaky. Maybe it WAS you in the future? Do you think your accent will turn British as you get older? The number thing, though. There are only so many number so there are bound to be recurring patterns, I think. But the fact that all 4 of us now share the same birthday — that’s odd.

    Pinklea – Does this mean you’re planning on retiring really soon?

    Friar – Yes, of course good genes helps a hell of a lot, but doing what you can to increase your odds of staying healthy for as long as possible can’t hurt. In either case, I think getting to 78 without drugs or surgery is a pretty good accomplishment however she got there. Are you back from fishing already? And still grumpy? Or is it the being back part?

    Bandobras – Good to know the old grey matter is still firing its synapses.

    Woodsy – Mwah!! How could I not think of you and your interesting encounters with interesting strangers after I met this woman? (See you Friday!)

    Mary – Homemaking is only a chore when you have to do it for other people. When you have to clean up after others, do their laundry, cook for them, etc… If it’s just you in the home, keeping your place nice suddenly isn’t a chore at all, but a pleasure. I’m just saying….. if you REALLY want to enjoy your twilight years and relax…

    Grouchy – Of course she’s magic! How could you not have know that?

    Violetsky – Perhaps. Perhaps. If it wasn’t for that kid/university factor, I’d be there already.

    Zoom – I would love to take her advice, but like I said to Violetsky, I still have to get the child through a few years of post-secondary education. So you go for it! Do it for all of us. I’m not too far behind.

  10. Xup, I consider strangling the husband from time to time, but I do not think of prison as a vacation with restaurants.
    But you do have a point there.

  11. Hannah – I’ve always been fond of old ladies.

    Friar – Walleye!! WALLEYE!

    Trashee – Why, you old scoundrel. You sure had me fooled. I guess the men’s 10-speed should have given it away.

    Mary – Well, you don’t have to kill him to get rid of him you know. Women have legal channels now for ditching their albatross these days.

    Robin – Me and the mysterious Gable-legged woman

  12. My husband and I have just purchased the home we want to retire to (a few months too early but the price and location worked). This was a move much applauded by my mother who will be 80 on her next birthday and has NEVER taken medication for anything. She was widowed at age 41 with 9 children under the age of 17. She’s not had an easy life nor one blessed with much money but when she greeted me last summer with the words “I’ve had the best day ever, I’ve just been for my very first canoe ride.” all I could do was laugh and tell her that I want to grow up to be just like her.

    We’re trying to figure out how this will work; flying by the seat of our pants. If you try to find information about how much is really enough for retirement you find that there IS no real information. We’re hoping that our desire to be closer to family (I have 50 close relatives just sprung from me and the sibs) and to have a home that welcomes friends and family will put us at one with the universe. And that enough will really be enough.

  13. Grace – Beautiful! I think you’ll be just fine with that much love around you and with such wonderful genes to support you! Thanks for sharing your story.

  14. that is so cool, i thought the same as your other commenters that it was you from the future or a parallel universe.

    i love serendipity moments like that.