Tips & Picks

Facing Loss in Retirement


Betty Fitterman - By Betty Fitterman

First, I lost my job writing ads for cranky clients, with recent college graduates opining such profundities as, “Women don’t bathe with rubber ducks.”  Instead, I have discovered writing for myself, and while I am my own worst critic, I don’t make myself angry when I criticize me. 

I lost my partner and employees in the deal too.  Then again, we’re still emailing, so I guess we’re friends.  That’s nice.

Then I lost two acres of land and a house.  Actually two acres and a skosh, if you count the condo.  And my beautiful BMW.    Now my house is on wheels, and we’re towing a little Jeep.  It’s not a BMW, but it gets me there.

Somewhere along the way, I lost my alarm clock.  Now I have to depend on the sun and the birds and the warm air drifting in my window to wake me up.    It’s a sacrifice, I know, but we’re on a budget, so I’m not replacing that clock.

I lost my dishwasher, but it’s amazing how clean your nails get when you dunk them in sudsy water for five minutes once a day.  I haven’t lost my dishes, though.  They’re still in the cabinet, right behind the paper plates, if memory serves. 

I’ve lost my schedule.  Sometimes I do the laundry on Monday, sometimes not.  (Sometimes not at all.)  The same with cleaning.  In fact, I downsized my vacuum for a Swiffer and damn if it isn’t the quietest thing in the world.  I have all the cleaning products I ever had at home, but they’re happier in the closet these days and I hate to disturb them.

If all this gives you the impression that I retired to become a housekeeper in a bus, let me assure you that this was a bargain I struck when I discovered that the other jobs available were dump and water hookup, engine maintenance and heavy lifting. 

I didn’t lose my dog and he still sheds a lot.  And your point is?

Interestingly, I’ve also lost my wallet.  I do carry a couple of credit cards around, but I let the old guy take care of all the cash transactions.  I hear the Queen of England never carries cash either.  It’s just so … plebian.

Which leads me to another financial loss:  my money worries.  For some reason, being on a budget, spending less and beating the challenge of having a fabulous life are incredibly gratifying.  If you had told me this three years ago, I would have laughed out loud,  waved my seven credit cards in your face and driven away in my BMW to my huge house and huge bills. 

I’ve lost other stresses too, but honestly, stress has a way of sneaking up on me.  That’s just the way I am.  However, OMG we’re out of coffee is a small one compared to OMG we’re out of clients.

I’ve lost my bicycle.  It was hanging on the back of the motor coach, slipped off its moorings and one wheel got stuck on the exhaust pipe.  The bike melted.  I’m serious;  not just the tire, but the metal parts too.  I’ll get a new one.  One of these days.

Retirement is all about loss.  You lose a lot of things you never wanted in the first place, some things you hadn’t even known you didn’t want, and a couple of things you probably should replace.   

I lost nights alone without my husband’s back to rest my icy feet on.  I lost working around the clock – and I was in advertising, so you can believe that one.  I lost my three-hour commute on a jammed-up highway.  I lost my high heels.  I think they’re in a box somewhere.  In losing those three-inchers, I lost my ability to walk in them, but I also lost two throbbing corns.  I’m ahead of the game.

What else have I lost?  I can’t even remember.  But there’s another side to this coin, as you may have guessed.

Wait until the next chapter.  I haven’t even begun to tell you what I’ve gained.

About Betty Fitterman:
Betty Fitterman was in advertising for over 30 years before her retirement in July of this year.  An award-winning writer, she was EVP/Creative Director and a member of the Board of Directors of Lintas Advertising until 1997, when she and her partner Frank DeVito formed DeVito Fitterman Advertising, which today is a successful agency serving blue chip clients like Johnson & Johnson, Ricola, ASCAP, Fujifilm and Arch Insurance, among others.    To read her humorous observances on mobile living, visit her blog at  


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