Retirement’s Comic Relief: Getting started | News, Sports, Jobs


There is a good chance you thought retirement would finally bring long awaited opportunities. Like time to pursue those hobbies you’ve kept on the back burner for decades. Basket weaving, reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica set your parents bought for you in 1963 – even expand your stamp and coin collections. Well… not so fast.

There are 75 million Baby Boomers. If you are, or might soon be among this group, you understand that life’s diversions persist and sometimes escalate as years pass by. Accidents, family drama, medical conditions, and constant reports of tensions over today’s societal, environmental, or political climates can bring sleepless nights, worry, and uncertainty about the future. It might seem the joyful bliss we have long awaited is fading.

There is plenty of advice offered about starting Social Security, managing Medicare, investing nest eggs or where to live in retirement. You will find none of that here. Instead, this column will focus on the humorous insight helpful in tolerating, perhaps even managing, frustrations after work days end. Prepare for an absurd analysis of retirement’s unexpected unpleasantries, challenges, aggravations and hair-raising family circumstances that throw a monkey wrench into life. These can be plentiful. Take it from me. I have relatives.

My propensity toward seeing humor within predicaments probably began after church one Sunday in 1958. The sermon that day was about “respect,” something the preacher was so adamant about he kept the congregation captive twenty minutes past the customary twelve o’clock dismissal. Before we got to the car, Dad was fuming. He said to Mom, “That guy doesn’t know a dang thing about respect. If he did, we would have been out the door by noon!” Dad wasn’t smiling. But I was.

It wasn’t until high school in 1965 that my interest in amusement was solidified. By then, fascination with science was pulling me toward a career as an orthodontist. But what high school brought was something else quite important to enjoying life — comedy lessons.

As sophomores, a group of classmates gathered in the cafeteria for lunch over a plate of peanut butter laden meatloaf or mock Salisbury steak each day. Before long, they expected me to arrive armed with a joke. With practice, each oratory better timed the punch line to coincide with Jimmy Rails packing in a mouthful of sloppy Joe or taking a swig of milk. Once this skill was mastered, no one dared sit directly across the table from Jimmy. Those who did suffered a wet splattering of half-chewed sandwich.

I hope you will join me in upcoming Minot Daily News columns as we focus on lowering the angst in retirement when things don’t turn out exactly as we hoped they would. This includes when we each discover our own unique “Cousin Eddie” unexpectedly pulling the RV up to the curb with his family at Christmas. With a little effort and the right point of view, retirement’s unexpected events can bring something to smile about – even when the dog chokes on that turkey bone under the table.

Information about me for a tag line? Not sure what a “tag” line should look like. Maybe you can help me with that? Some element found here, perhaps?

Sommers is a retired Minot orthodontist, past president of the N.D. Dental and Orthodontist Associations, husband, father, grandfather and reluctant diaper changer (not his — grandkids’!)



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