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Questions and Stories about Empty Nest and Retirement

Listed below is the compilation of all of the questions and stories that retirees and those with an empty nest have asked, shared, or submitted as a response to our national writing contest. Topics range from education, to money, to relationships, to health, and many more in between. Do you have a story to share about your experiences being retired or adjusting to an empty nest? Click the "Share Your Story" button to add your voice to!

Read Empty Nest and Retirement Questions and Stories

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Having been an English teacher, I always felt--hoped?--that the English teacher had a unique place in every student’s heart.

For me, the first enchantress was a supervisor who visited our shabby classroom once a month. Longfellow was the designated grade poet, and she made every word of The Courtship of Miles Standish come alive. I could never forget the drama of “Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?” Then we read Longfellow’s story of Evangeline and became aware of

Christmas brings out the real people inside of us as the following stories illustrate. On the day before Christmas, I donned my backpack and left home on a walk with my dog in preparation for some upcoming hikes. On a busy corner, as we waited for the light, we were approached by a man who walked over from the gas station to offer us $20 because he thought we must be homeless. I had to explain that we were fine, and that surely there were others who needed his act of kindness. We wished e

My husband and I were driving to Boston and stopped to investigate an area we’d read about.
After walking the grounds, we finally found the old stone building we were looking for.
I saw them as soon as we walked into the main room. A young mother and her five children looking at the old fashioned displays, laughing and talking quietly. Not buying anything, but enjoying the free historical displays set up like an old fashioned store. (Never mind you could buy replicas of everything a

Dan Tolonen was the patriarch of our family. He was a tough man in a tough part of the country – Northern Minnesota’s iron mining Mesabi Range. He started out as a sailor on the Great Lakes, but his dream was to own a farm in Minnesota. He realized his dream by starting with a small farm and eventually buying a 250 acre farm in Balkan, Minnesota. He worked the farm his entire life, and also became a miner in the iron ore mines. As a miner, he joined the union and rose through the ranks to

If you watch television these days you’ll see all sorts of commercials about life insurance. The theme is usually the same: a strapping young man just out of college finds a job and buys insurance to secure his future. Or a man in his late 20s has just got married and buys a life insurance policy for his wife’s security, just in case. Or parents in their mid-30s all smiling and happy buy a life insurance policy so that their kid has something to fall back on if something drastic happens. What’


November maple, chiseled rough by stones

From pastured boulder crops that glaciers bring,

Extending lichened frame like leafless bones

To shelter sapling shoots it spawned last spring.

The bark is frayed to grey by killing frost.

With blackened base from fires in the field,

The trunk is scarred with knots from limbs long lost

And deeper cuts that bled and hurt and healed.

Did you see the news about the Great Dane in Portland, Oregon, that ate 43-1/2 socks (the half sock was a mystery)? It made me think of Nike--not the company, the dog.

Nike was a large, sweet, handsome Belgian Shepherd owned by Bob Hoffman, owner of Playland, an amusement park, which recently closed, in Upstate New York. Many moons ago, we often took our daughters there for the arcade, rides or miniature golf; or if we were without the girls, my husband, my hero, sometimes inv

Dear Erik and Matt,

I learned yesterday that a friend of mine, Liam Nevins, was killed in Afghanistan. He was murdered by an Afghan soldier, along with two other American soldiers.

Liam worked for me in Afghanistan on my prior project, and I spent every day that I was in Kuwait with him. We had all meals together, rode to and from the base and worked together every day in the hot sun. At night we smoked Cuban cigars on the beach of the Arabia

As Vietnam Vets, we try to help each other. When one of ours was in real trouble, my brothers stepped up. The following letter is a far better tribute than anything I could write:

Dear Friends,

This has been the hardest letter to write because I know my efforts are doomed to fail to convey my and Gary's gratitude to you fellow Shipmates. He has tried to explain the bond forged at USNA and has spoken so fondly of you over the years of our marriage. Now I am on the cusp of

The word of the day is heedful, reminding me that I must ever be mindful of not only my actions but my words. I must remember that words that slip by the lips fall on ears that may misinterpret my meaning. My words are generated from within me, filtered through my likes, dislikes, beliefs and history then fall on ears that may have other filters and histories. Though I do not intentionally say hurtful things at times I see a reaction in another that surprises me when I see they have taken somet

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