MY WIFE AND I TOOK a two-week trip to Ireland. We flew to Dublin and stayed at the Hotel Riu Plaza. If you’re ever on the run and need a hiding place, just ask for a room on floor 2C. They’ll never find you because of the strange floor plan. All things considered, the Riu Plaza is a fine hotel at a reasonable price, with a good buffet breakfast to start your day.
After touring Dublin for four days, we took a train to Galway for three days. It’s the largest city close to the Cliffs of Moher. Seeing those large sea cliffs, which reach a height of 702 feet, was one of the reasons we took the trip.
We decided to take a tour bus to the cliffs from Galway. Gary, our driver, greeted us, and asked where we’re from and whether we’re enjoying our stay. Then, in his Irish accent, he said, “I have two reserved seats for you, right behind me.” These seats gave us a great view of the countryside and the Burren as we made our way to the cliffs. The Burren is a limestone area known for its caves, rock formations and archeological sites. Rachel loves to take pictures. This was perfect.
But we didn’t request special seating. When we boarded the bus, it was nearly full. They must have saved these seats for us. But why? I think it’s because we’re elderly. Sitting in the other two reserved seats across from us were another older couple.
When we bought the tickets, we told them we’re over 65 to get the senior discount. If our age is the reason we got those seats, I wished they hadn’t done that. I don’t need any special treatment, especially getting on or off a bus. My wife and I were just as physically fit, if not more so, than others on the bus.
I don’t feel my age. In fact, I feel much younger than age 72. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself, because I can’t believe I’m this old. They say feeling younger than your age may be good for your health, and I believe that. That’s one reason I don’t plan on moving into a retirement community. It would make me feel older if I wasn’t regularly around younger folks.
On the way to the cliffs, we passed a small cemetery full of headstones. There were so many I couldn’t see how you could walk around the headstones without bumping into one. I told my wife that if I die while we’re traveling overseas, cremate me, put my ashes in an urn and take me home. She can spread my ashes anywhere but the ocean. I want a permanent place, like our backyard next to the rose bushes.
That cemetery made me think of my childhood friend, Jeremy, who passed away last year. He didn’t have a funeral. Instead, he requested his wife get all his friends together, and have one last dinner and drinks for him. He told her before he died that they could order all the food and drink they wanted, and to tell them it was on him.
While attending the dinner, I heard someone ask, “Who is paying for all this?” Another person said, “Jeremy, drink up.” I thought it was odd that a deceased person was picking up the tab. It just didn’t sound right. But that’s the way Jeremy wanted it. He was a generous person, alive or dead.
There were quite a few people attending the dinner. They were all eating and drinking like there was no tomorrow. His wife told me she was afraid that the word would get out and people would show up uninvited. She was concerned that a lot of his ex-coworkers might turn up. I could see how this could easily spiral out of control.
When I left, they were still going at it. I can’t imagine how much his wife spent on this get-together. But what probably unnerved her the most was not knowing how much it was going to cost, because of the unlimited food and drink, along with folks showing up uninvited. It’s like owning stocks in a brutal bear market, and not knowing where share prices are going to bottom out. It’s the unknown that can rattle you, especially when it comes to your money and health.
When I received the invitation to the “celebration of the life of Jeremy,” I initially thought it was a great idea. Should I have my wife do something like this for me when I’m gone? I love my friends. But I’m not about to get my wife involved in something she has little control over. She’ll have enough financial stress after my death, without dealing with a “celebration of the life of Dennis.”
Dennis Friedman retired from Boeing Satellite Systems after a 30-year career in manufacturing. Born in Ohio, Dennis is a California transplant with a bachelor’s degree in history and an MBA. A self-described “humble investor,” he likes reading historical novels and about personal finance. Check out his earlier articles and follow him on Twitter @DMFrie.