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When Mortality Reminders Strike Close to Home
Old 01-16-2013, 09:43 AM   #1
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When Mortality Reminders Strike Close to Home

I am going to a wake tonight for a former work colleague from Mega Corp. Several of us meet every couple of months for dinner, and its always enjoyable to recount the good ole days and catch up on whats going on in each others lives. He was 71, eight years older than me, and has been retired for the last 4 years. It makes me sad that he leaves behind a lovely wife, two sons and grand childeren and that he had such a short number of years to enjoy his retirement. I am finding events like this having a big impact on me, as it becomes a strong reminder of one's own mortality, and points to the uncertainty of how many days each of us has left. The only positive here is that it makes me look forward to April 30th, my retirement date, with even more enthusiasm.
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Old 01-16-2013, 10:05 AM   #2
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I have had co workers go as early as 57. One was still working. He did not get one day of retirement.
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Old 01-16-2013, 10:43 AM   #3
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My father worked till his last breath and died(1st Heart Attack and it was lethal) within half hour on the way back from work in 1974 at age 55. He had worked 16+ hours/day seven days a week to feed our large family and never got a moment for himself. I've been balancing my life for past 13 years and taking 4 weeks off with family and spending lots of time with them throughout the year. My mother just passed away at age 93 two months ago. Thank God she lived a great life!
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Old 01-16-2013, 11:22 AM   #4
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My father died at 52, and my mother at 59. I'm now 50, so that's my mortality reminder. I'm hoping to do a bit better.
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Old 01-16-2013, 12:07 PM   #5
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My father died a week before he would have been 63, but my mother went to 83. Other relatives are all over the map. I'm not all that concerned about it because I'm in far better shape than my father was at that age.

Regarding people at work, I went to nine funerals. Only one was from natural causes. The rest were all line-of-duty events.
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Old 01-16-2013, 12:16 PM   #6
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Working longer to increase your probability of success in retirement can cost you your retirement. Overestimating the amount you need can have a price too.
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Old 01-16-2013, 02:50 PM   #7
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I posted last year about burying a former co-worker who was 55. Organized our golf league for about 15 years. Was working 7 days a week when his cancer returned. Left 4 college age kids ... wife terrified of how she'd make ends meet. Sad ... really sad.
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Old 01-17-2013, 06:29 AM   #8
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Being in the medical profession, I am often reminded of my own mortality every few days or so. One of the key reasons why I would like to FIRE.
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Old 01-17-2013, 08:32 AM   #9
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Unless you have a family history and/or serious medical condition that says otherwise (some people do), I'd still use the overall longevity probabilities for planning despite the sad, unfortunate exceptions.

That said, I also had a co-worker who talked about early retirement (with a military pension, VA benefits, etc. to look forward to) all the time. He got really sick, turned out to be cancer, and he was dead in less than a year at age 55 without every enjoying a day of retirement. He spent his last months emaciated and so weak he could only lay on the couch at home all day. He left behind a healthy wife, though she eventually remarried. Obviously awful and sad...
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Old 01-17-2013, 09:09 AM   #10
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My father worked till his last breath and died(1st Heart Attack and it was lethal) within half hour on the way back from work in 1974 at age 55. He had worked 16+ hours/day seven days a week to feed our large family and never got a moment for himself. I've been balancing my life for past 13 years and taking 4 weeks off with family and spending lots of time with them throughout the year. My mother just passed away at age 93 two months ago. Thank God she lived a great life!
Mine did the same thing, but fortunately had 5 good years before a cancer diagnosis - then survived another 4.5 years through careful treatment. As a father of two daughters now, I'm finally beginning to understand the extent of his sacrifices for our family.

Yet I'm not exactly following the same path. I think one of the reasons he developed cancer was because he sacrificed too much and failed to take care of himself. This is an important lesson to learn for anyone. You will not be in any position to take care of others if you don't take care of yourself. Besides, what's the point of sacrificing if you can't eventually enjoy the fruits of that sacrifice?
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Old 01-17-2013, 09:58 AM   #11
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This has been on my mind as I approach my 60th b'day. Too, three acquaintances recently have died at age 60 to 62 or so. It doesn't help that one of my best friends died at 57 and my mother at 59.

In mulling it all over someone made this observation to me - or maybe I read - that it is those of us at 60 who are shocked and dismayed at the loss of a same-age friend/relative. Those who are age 70 are just saddened having seen it happen all too often during the previous decade.

On the positive side, I rather like the perhaps contradictory observation that human bodies are rather like machines. If there is an inherent "flaw" it will appear in your 50s under the stress of operating or, rather, aging. Those of us who survive our 50s (as I'm about to !) are good to go for another couple of decades.
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:05 AM   #12
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OTOH, I posted this some time ago, but...

When my Dad was in his early to mid-80s and still playing golf regularly, without thinking I asked him if he still had the same foursome as he did when he retired at 60? He laughed and said, 'heck no, they all died a long time ago.'

He's 91 now, though he (sadly) had to give up golf a few years ago having played since he was a boy...

When my Mom was 60, I asked her what she thought it would be like to be 80. She said 'I hope I'm not still alive then.'

She's also 91 now...

So you can see why I'm reluctant to plan on (or recommend planning on) a short life despite the awful sad exceptions we hear/read about from time to time.
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Old 01-17-2013, 02:38 PM   #13
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My Dad retired at 57 and he and my Mom had 20 great years together spent traveling, visiting exetended family and close family, grandkids especially. They were very active in their community. My Dad took up golfing after he retired and fell in love with the game, played all the time (but not weekends when it was crowded) with good friends. He died at 77 from cancer, but was healthy until just the last few months. They had a wonderful life together during those 20 years.

My Mom is grateful for every day they had together, and so thankful my Dad retired early. They never regretted not working longer.
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Old 01-17-2013, 03:23 PM   #14
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FIL at 50
BIL at 50
Father at 53
Brother at 59
DW uncles 56 60
DW aunts 43 52
Cousins both sides... 28, 32 and 56
One son (of 4) at 38
1st Best friend at 40
2nd at 37

It isn't easy, and now that DW and I are in 77th year, have seen hundreds of friends and neighbors leave us... too soon.

Never get used to it, but it makes life more real, more beautiful and more appreciated. We are very thankful.
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Old 01-17-2013, 03:34 PM   #15
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There have been quite a few people that worked for my former employer who have now passed away including people in there 40's, 50's, 60's, and early 70's.
I think it helps to focus on the inspiring people I see around me. The 93 year old lady who has been working out with a personal trainer for 5 years to maintain basic independent living functions. The near 80 year old women I see at water aerobics regularly and some of them hike and snowshoe also. It helps me to keep a more positive perspective on life.
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Old 01-17-2013, 05:51 PM   #16
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After watching a close friend and a family member (both of whom were not much older than me) decline and die within the last couple of years, it's hard not to think about my own mortality. I'm glad I retired when I did (3 years ago), for one thing, as I have enjoyed the last 3 years immensely. Taking care of my health has also gotten to be a primary focus since I retired. You never know when your time may be up, but you can do a lot of things to increase the odds that you will maintain your health as you age.
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Old 01-20-2013, 08:47 AM   #17
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A short time ago, a good friend of mine died at age 58 from cancer. (less than one year after being diagnosed) Before that he always seemed to be very healthy. He didn't smoke or drink. He had regular check-ups, he would eat well and was an active outdoorsman. He often talked about his retirement plans which he planned to start at about age 60. A real reality check for many of us that knew him.
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Old 01-20-2013, 10:27 AM   #18
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My own family history and statistics say I should make it to the 73-80 range, however, there have been too many deaths of friends and associates in their 50's and these people were, for the most part, fairly healthy people who died suddenly due to illnesses. For example, 52 year old neighbor who was thin, exercised regularly and tried to eat well. She started having migraines and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Her and her husband were discussing the various treatment options and she died suddenly before even getting back in to see the oncologist again. Steve, my neighbor two doors down, who is 48, suddenly came down with Lou Gehrig's disease and is fading away quickly. A co-worker of DW died one night in her sleep most unexpectedly. She was somewhat overweight but only 39.

These incidents, and others, greatly influenced our very recent decision to accelerate our FIRE plans by a few years even though I would be naturally inclined to work a little longer and goose those FireCalc results. I'm 54 and DW 50. We're going to have fun and spend a little more in our early retirement while we can knowing we're risking possible negative outcomes on the back end.
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Old 01-20-2013, 12:22 PM   #19
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That is part of the reason that I decided to retire so "early" at 56. while my family longevity is pretty good, you just never know.

I had a great uncle who scrimped and saved and retired to drop dead of a heart attack less than a year later. A former colleague who had put in his retirement papers and was to retire in a month, took ill and went into the hospital and was gone two weeks later. A high school classmate who died of cancer last week. Too many to count.

Time to enjoy life while I can and I am blessed that my finances are such that I can afford to do so.
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Old 01-20-2013, 12:41 PM   #20
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.... You never know when your time may be up, but you can do a lot of things to increase the odds that you will maintain your health as you age.
True, but "man plans, God laughs." Of our acquaintances who have passed away, more than half were living the epitome of a healthy lifestyle.
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