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Death, taxes ... retirement

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To Benjamin Franklin, we owe the lightning rod and bifocals, among his many inventions. We also have him to thank for many witticisms and sage insights, including: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

I’m an optimistic guy and would like to believe that along with death and taxes, one more thing we can add to the inevitable within our lives is retirement.

With retirement in mind, I reached out to “people of a certain age” to find out about their own retirement. Following are highlights from their comments.

“I retired in 2008 — right when the guacamole hit the fan. Fortunately for me, I had already moved the bulk of my retirement into stable-asset accounts, so I was spared the worst of it. I honestly don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t done that. The stocks that I did own I didn’t touch, and that has mostly come back to where it was. I was really lucky.”

Jim, 72, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

“My husband departed this world in the year 2000, and I have lived alone since then. He left me well taken care of — we had a lawyer handle our estate for us — and I have lived independently since then with occasional help from my children.”

Annette, 83, McKinney, Texas

“I have been wanting to retire for a decade or so, but every time I do, someone comes out of the woodwork and makes me an offer I can’t refuse. My wife is ready to kill me. She wants to be near the grandkids — and great grandkids now — but no matter what I do, I can’t seem to get out.”

Stan, 79, Winston-Salem, N.C.

“My husband is retiring in January. Honestly, I don’t know what he’s going to do with all that time. He doesn’t golf or anything like that. All he’s ever done is work. Some of my friends, when their husbands retired, it was just a couple of years before they passed on. I hope that doesn’t happen to [my husband].”

Molly, 71, Mesa, Ariz.

In his own retirement, and no longer in public service, Benjamin Franklin kept his mind sharp by reading and studying. But he noticed something during this rather peaceful period in his life: As he aged, he could no longer reach the books on the top shelf of his library. Never one to give in to challenges, he invented The Long Arm or Nifty Nabber — a wooden pole with a grasping claw at the end. 

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