By ROBERT LACOSTA
In Part 1, we learned that noted Albany historian and former New York State Assemblyman John “Jack” McEneny lost his wife of 37 years to cancer. Shortly after, a heart attack took even more of the shine off the “Golden Years.”
Some sparkle returned, however, when he met and eventually married his neighbor, Jan.
The two retirees began to share common interests that especially included the restoration of a camp at Sacandaga Lake.
Enjoying the freedom that eludes most full-time workers, Jack was able to rekindle some relationships, slowly drifting from the constraints that public service inherently requires.
“It’s critical not to retire from something if you haven’t retired to something,” he says. “At the same time, you think you’re going to do something and yet you never do what you predicted. Life presents opportunities that you haven’t even thought of.”
But life also presents unforeseen challenges.
Like a history book, Jack’s life continued in a page-turner mode when he suffered a stroke in 2017 that left him without the ability to read for a couple of months nor speak the way a public figure speaks.
“It was more than a year before I got my confidence back up to speak,” he says. “Now, it’s more of a minor inconvenience and a little frustrating. When I saw others at Sunnyview Rehabilitation who were much worse off than me, I couldn’t feel sorry for myself.”
Jack’s health crisis brought him face to face with that unsettling feeling that many seniors go through.
“I had to wonder whether the effects of the stroke were short-term or long-term and it led to an insecurity about the future,” he says.
Jack’s personal history allows him to speak with some authority when he encourages seniors to keep going; to continue with learning, activities and service.
“Look at retirement as a blessing and new adventures to begin,” he says.
Robert J. LaCosta blogs daily and his latest book is on the reflective years of a senior who survived five brushes with death. Write him at [email protected] or call 518-435-1250.
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