Morton was the kind of person who possessed everything, but felt he had nothing. He had worked hard all his life and now owned a fabulous apartment – actually, he owned the whole building. And he had two wonderful children – who lived with their mother. Last year, he sold his real estate business to his partners and retired. At his going-away party, he told his friends and fellow employees that he looked forward to a life of skiing in the winter, tennis in the summer, movies in the afternoon and binge-watching The Americans and Game of Thrones.
Last year, the reality of his “new life” hit him when, driving home after a doctor’s appointment in November, he noticed holiday decorations in the windows of a nearby Shopper’s Drug Mart. He thought about how his ex-wife was taking the kids to Alberta to spend Christmas with her parents. And with a heavy heart, he realized that this year, he wasn’t going to an office holiday party.
For sure, he had friends to visit, former co-workers to meet for a beer or two, and out-of-town relatives to telephone. Yet… something he couldn’t explain was missing. So, feeling alone and anxious to discover what the New Year might bring, he called me for a Skype appointment.
“I can’t tell you your future,” I gently said, responding to his first question. “But we can talk about your choices, and help that’s available to you from the spirit world.”
After saying a quick prayer, I brought through Morton’s parents, who gave him some advice and encouraged him to find a new career. His parents reminded him about his first job, delivering newspapers at age 13, and for the next 50 years Morton worked and studied hard until he co-founded his own company.
Morton sighed. “Y’know what I miss the most about retiring? It’s not like I left a job – I feel like I’ve left a family. The people I worked with – they were like brothers and sisters. And the youngsters coming into the company, the new hires – they were like my kids. I watched many of them grow up and blossom into great salesmen and women.”
He was quiet for a moment, then said, “I don’t want to become one of those retirees you read about, who feel like they’ve become useless and end up dying of a heart attack.”
“Your mother reminds you that you do have a family that loves you,” I said, passing on the message. Morton nodded, thinking of his children. “And your dad suggests you also have a new family: Your friends and work associates. An extended family that can be just as meaningful to you as your familial relations.”
Again, Morton nodded. Then he said, “You call them my extended family – but they’re all spending Christmas with their husbands and wives and kids. I don’t want to be all alone.”
“You don’t have to be,” I said, remembering an article I’d just read in the newspaper. “Several churches in the area are looking for volunteers to serve meals to the homeless and the elderly on Christmas. As Deepak Chopra says, ‘People who feel useful do not deteriorate or get unhealthy.’”
“Homeless people,” he said. “I don’t know…” Then he laughed once. “How ironic. Spending Christmas by myself with nowhere to go – it’s almost like I’m homeless!”
That was last year. A few days ago, I got a lovely Christmas email from Morton. He wrote that after volunteering at a food bank, he started a new career as a volunteer, and this Christmas, he plans to spend time at a hospice, where he’s got an appointment with a terminal cancer patient. “We plan to spend Christmas Eve playing poker,” Morton wrote. “And I bet it’ll be one of the best Christmases I’ll ever spend!”
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