COLUMN: Making memories, enjoying life is key in retirement

Published 8:58 pm Wednesday, March 8, 2023

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As I’m writing this piece, I’m thousands of miles away while on vacation with my wife. Indeed, a well-deserved vacation that has been planned a long time ago.

My wife’s high school (all girls) reunion was put off, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It would have been celebrated two years ago. 

This time, the successful well-planned and scheduled three-day event finally happened. With, of course, memories of their former classmates/high school Batch ’71 who were not able to participate because of death and/or illness.

The all-female high school jubilarians’ reunion was filled with laughter and love,  and memories of just being high school teens with amazing ambitions and dreams and,  of course, crushes. They have had a lot of things to talk about, to catch up, so to speak. They enjoyed each other’s company. They made connections and reconnections again, after 50 years plus that they haven’t seen each other. They have had lots of fun and stories to share with each other. 

Such an event is a milestone, truly a once-in-a-lifetime celebration that could never be replicated. Daily themes included a Hawaiian-inspired Luau, Retro in the 70s at Casa Cecilia Hotel and masquerade ball at Mayor Germy in Caoayan. They were treated to various tours of private beach resorts. Transportation was provided by Gov. Jerry Singson of Ilocos Sur.

Thanks to the high school jubilee organizers, led by Marie Rose Eleazar, Casa Cecilia Hotel owners Celia Lopez Jennings and her husband Jon, who were gracious enough to provide free accommodations to all participants and discounted hotel rate for their husbands (me, included), and lunch and dinner sponsors, and supporters like Gov. Luis Chavit Singson,  Hon. Governor Jerry Singson of Ilocos Sur and Caoayan Mayor Germy Singson Goulart and Chinita Go Parilla of Bantay.

You see, the participants, including their husbands, are in their mid 60s. Majority of them have retired from work. They ‘re just enjoying life and trying to have fun,  good times, with as much as less stress or none at all. 

They’re making memories with their family and friends while they can. What else would they do but engage in activities and events that enhance and improve their quality of life as seniors or senior citizens with all the benefits they deserve. 

With all the things going on in the world, they have accomplished so much in their own ways, notwithstanding wealth materially or otherwise. They have acquired many life experiences that they can pass on to their children and their families. They’ve been a source of wisdom, guidance and inspiration, and great help to their fellow golden jubilarians, family members and friends near and far. 

Making connections and reconnections and memories are all they do, while aware of their health and other issues affecting their overall well-being. They join clubs, go on tours and travel, volunteer in their church, and meet up, while they stay focused on their health and well-being. 

They try their best to stay in touch with their friends and family members.

Though some of them have concerns about issues related to their health and finances, they seem unperturbed by what’s going on, especially in politics and culture, and other changes and challenges. Why? Because they’ve passed that stage of always worrying about anything affecting their well-being. They let go of the past and enjoy the moment to the best they can. 

Though resilient they are, they’re vulnerable to everything, such as scams, diseases,  disasters, fake news, while still being concerned about their lives and future. 

On the other hand, for retirees like me, I would suggest or say — make memories while you can, while you’re alive, able and capable. Be active and productive,  positive and proactive. Be happy and hopeful, and helpful while you can. 

Continue to learn and grow with your faith. Cherish all the memories that you have accumulated through the years. Continue to make connections and reconnections with your past. But above all, be at peace with yourself, family and friends, and your God. 

Live in the present moment well, while making more memories and having fun and good times. 

CHRIS A. QUILPA, a retired U.S. Navy veteran,  lives in Suffolk and Chesapeake. Email him at