Kirk Matthews Elderhood Project - Generations Magazine - October - November 2011Mrs. Matthews [Linda Coble] and I went on a bus tour of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and points east in Canada. We had never been to that part of the world before. We had 20-plus fellow travelers along for the ride … and it was fantastic!

While the scenery and food were great, the best part of the trip was the people. Nearly all of them are retired.

Half the group was from Hawai‘i and the other half were from different spots around across the Mainland. Jerry and Mary were from Wisconsin. They have been on 20 of these tours! He retired from the air-conditioning/heating business and she is a former teacher. Donna was a retired nurse from upstate New York and her friend, Betty, was also a retired teacher.

I have a whole new admiration for people who are retired — but not tired. All the people on our tour were having the time of their lives. It made me realize, as the commercial says, retirement is not the finish line. For these folks and many others, retirement is the beginning of a new chapter.

Jenny and Cora from Hawai‘i crocheted lei for every person on the bus and other friends they met on the way. Malia and Junius from Maui are retired professors. Their enthusiasm was a message for us all. Carolina is still working as the UH mail supervisor, but she took time off to refresh herself. At each new destination, we all filed off the bus and took in the new sights, smells and history of a place we had never been.

My message here is simple. Enjoy the world around you as long as you can. You’ll be glad you did.