Jim sat tapping his morning cup as he looked out the window through the rain. It was coming down harder now, and the wind had picked up. The corn across the road whipped back and forth.

It had been a dry spring, and so the rain was a great blessing.

The house was quiet as his wife was shopping with one of their daughters over in Galena. The only sound was the ticking of the clock and the tapping of his fingers.

In his mind he wondered, “How did I get to this place?”

Jim was 70 years old and still actively farming. He wondered if he should be doing something different at this stage of life.

Most of his friends were retired. They traveled or played golf. Some of them spent most of their time at the doctor’s office. Some found new interest in watching “The Price is Right” every day and others discussed events occurring on reruns of “Gilligan’s Island.” None of those things appealed to him.

Jim had enough money to retire. He wasn’t worried about that. Some of his friends were not able to retire at 70. They needed the income to provide for their daily expenses. Some had built new homes at 60 or 65 years old and were now making payments on a $400,000 house.

Jim had most of a thousand acres which he owned with minimal debt. He had more than enough money to do most anything he desired.

Unlike some of his farming neighbors, he also had some other investments. If he rented out his land, the rent alone would support a good lifestyle by farming standards.

Other than a new pickup, he really had not been extravagant with anything. He had better machinery than he really needed. This was a function of trying to reduce taxes during the high-income years.

Over the years, he hired things out which he didn’t want to do anymore. He was not comfortable running anhydrous and really didn’t want to do most of the spraying. Doing fence rows and weedy spots gave him an opportunity to drive over the fields without all the rush of covering everything in early June.

On occasion, he would meet with friends at Hardee’s but found it difficult to do that with any regularity.

He’d been invited to golf several times but thought it was somewhat like dancing: If you had not learned how to do it when you were young, it was hard to develop those talents at 70 years old.

At his wife’s prompting, they had done some traveling, but there was a limit to how much time he really wanted to be gone. Surely life must be more than seeing things.

Years ago, Jim had been on the volunteer fire department and served as a county president of Farm Bureau for three years.

But those things were too much at 70 years of age. They were something that should be left to young people.

Even 100 TV channels provided little interest to Jim. Cross-stitching was out of the question.

Sadly, tinkering in the shop had lost much of its appeal. At one time he would have been excited to overhaul an engine or fix up a truck. Now those things were more of a burden than a joy. His tools sat quietly on their shelves.

So here Jim sat. He had more than enough money to retire. His health was still good. What was he to do with his time?

Continuing to farm seemed like the only course of action that gave him purpose in life. It was his reason to get up in the morning.

Jim wondered if it really made any difference that some of his neighbors retired at 64 and others still farmed at 80 years of age? Did he really care what anyone else thought?

As he continued to tap his fingers on his cup, Jim decided he was doing exactly what he wanted to do. And he was happy with that.

The sky was clearing and soon he would be in his truck checking on the fields and the level of the creek.

After that he might stop at Hardee’s and chat with his friends. But if all they had to talk about was their health and politics, perhaps he would find something more useful to do.

He had seen in the paper that they were looking for someone to run the tractor pull at the county fair that year. That sounded like fun.

His wife had let him know that the library was looking for a fundraiser chairman to expand the building. She thought he would be a good choice to lead the effort.

Jim had always been interested in flying an ultralight plane. Perhaps it was not too dangerous for an old guy. He was curious about a runway, flying speeds and engine strength. Jim was willing to give it a try.

Jim realized his life would continue on.

He had been told by one of his friends that it was important to move every once in a while. If he sat in the same place long enough, somebody will come along and try to bury him. As long as he kept moving, he would be OK.


Bob Dunaway and Associates offer estate and retirement planning. Gary Johnson can be reached at 563-927-4554 or by emailing him at plans@bobdunaway.com.