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Posted on Sun, Mar 4, 2012 : 5 a.m.

One year into her retirement widow seeks new purpose

By Dear Abby


I am a 64-year-old healthy widow with no children. I retired a year ago after a successful 42-year career. I am financially sound.

I couldn't wait to retire because my job was demanding, and toward the end it had become extremely stressful. About two months into retirement -- and after taking a few trips -- I began feeling worthless and guilty for being nonproductive. I tried a part-time job, but it wasn't my thing.

I'm now considering another part-time job, volunteering or returning to school. I have always wanted to further my education and get a graduate degree, but I don't know if I'm too old to meet the demands.

I feel like I lost my identity when I stopped working. I know it had to end one day, but I still have a lot of energy and want to engage in some activity that will revive my self-worth.

At this point, I don't know what that will be. Your thoughts and guidance would be greatly appreciated. -- SEARCHING FOR "ME" IN TEXAS


Not everyone ages at the same rate. Some people wear out faster than others do. Today, for various reasons -- not all of them financial -- many seniors choose to remain in the business world. Their work ethic and experience are valuable assets.

If you think a graduate degree would be challenging and would help you in a new career, then by all means, go for it.

When people tell me they are thinking of retiring, I always ask, "And what will you be retiring TO?" because I am convinced that retiring to "nothing" is neither physically nor emotionally healthy for individuals who are used to being active.


I bought my aunt, uncle and two teenage cousins gift cards from an online retailer a year and a half ago. I checked with them in advance to see if this might be something they'd use. Six months ago, I noticed in my order history that only one of the cards had been redeemed. I hate to see the money go to waste.

Should I call my relatives? If I do, what do I say? It's possible they just haven't gotten around to using the cards. Should I reprint the cards and send them with a reminder note? (Maybe the cards were lost?) Should I send my relatives a check and use the cards myself? Chalk it up to a loss? That one kills me!

I suppose if I hadn't seen the order history, I would never have known whether the cards had been used. What do you think I should do? -- CONFLICTED IN CONNECTICUT


Use the direct approach. Contact your relatives and tell them that while reviewing your account history, you noticed that three of the four gift cards you sent have not been used. Ask if they would like to have them printed out again, if by chance they were lost -- or if they would prefer you send them a check for the value of the cards.

To contact them isn't rude, and it shouldn't be awkward. In fact, it may be appreciated.


My wife says I am always wrong. Is she right? -- TONGUE IN MY CHEEK


Not this time. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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