It is not often that the news makes us smile.  However, a recent news article about an elderly married couple in California who died one day apart is a heart-warming story.  Helen and Les Brown were born on the same day in December 1918 and were married for 75 years.  They died one day apart:

Certainly the Brown’s story is a rare one.  More often, one spouse will pre-decease the other by a number of years.  This is when plans can change substantially after retirement.  One example of this is the story of an older couple I have recently met.  They are in the process of relocating 500 kilometres.  Few of us would take on a major transition at their ages and many avoid relocations at any age.  This particular transition includes the building of a new home and the development of social ties in a community where they currently have none.  They are undertaking this with great joy plus a dose of reality.

One of the spouses was previously married.  Due to his wife’s illness he decreased his working hours and eventually cared for her full time – with the help of many in the community.  As a widower he met up again with someone from his past and they later married.  This required the bride to relocate to her new husband’s community.  Since that time she has begun to experience some health challenges requiring a relocation in order to provide a better climate for her comfort.  So these retired newlyweds have embarked on a adventure in a new community.

In talking with them there is no doubt of their realistic perspectives about aging and their understanding of the need for a strong social network.  They intend to prioritize the building of community relationships by finding volunteer work that they will enjoy together.  They are an example of aging done well.  They are flexible and open to new opportunities and challenges.  They have made decisions in their lives, financial and otherwise, that enable this transition.  This is a retirement to admire.  Life doesn’t always go as planned but that does not mean that there are some incredible experiences in your future - at any age.

I’ve often written about GDP and the poor measure it provides regarding the contribution of seniors.  In this couples’ case, their new community has hit the jackpot in gaining two fabulous seniors who will be valuable contributors to their new home town.  In addition, this love story is inspiration for preparing well for retirement in a way that enables enjoyment, being resilient as life tosses those curve balls, and retaining the ability to add value in a way that is uniquely important to the giver.

I have been asked numerous times about the magic number someone needs to have saved for retirement.  I always give the same answer – it depends on the lifestyle someone leads.  However, I think I have found the magic number – it’s two!