On March 22 this past Monday, I woke up the same way I did 10 years ago. The alarm went off, much to my chagrin. But out of bed I hopped, ready to start the day. The forecast, gray skies, cold. Just like March 22, 2011. That day, I got a call from my dad.
I had never heard his voice exclaim my name like that before. So intentional, so desperate, so hallow. “What is it Dad?” I asked, my heart sensing something was wrong.
“She did it!”…
“She did what?!”
“Pam…Mom…she took her life…”
And with that, the course of history changed forever. The loving wife, mother and grandmother that Pamela M. Hixon was…ceased in her dying breath.
I struggled with guilt for a long time…we all did. Why didn’t we see the signs? What went so wrong? She had retired, wasn’t that supposed to be paradise? Isn’t retirement the ‘thing’ that everyone works toward?
It all went so different for her. Shortly after she retired, instead of enjoying her time, she regretted her decision. The fulfillment of her career now replaced by, in her mind, a purposeless existence. Hope quickly dissipated, anxiety filled the gap, depression overwhelmed her mind.
It took me, my Dad and my sister time to process what had happened. By now, we have fit most of the puzzle pieces together. A few minor pieces are still missing, but we think we understand why this happened. Purpose is important. A retirement that only checks off the ‘financial’ boxes is bound to struggle. It’s important to also work on the non-financial side. What will you do in retirement? What will bring purpose and fulfillment to your day? What important impression still awaits your mark on this world? To retire without thinking through these important aspects can set the retiree up for unneeded anxiety and stress.
Far be it from me or my family to allow this stumbling block to define us. We haven’t given up. We’ve turned this tragedy into triumph, this stumbling block into stepping-stones.
To honor Mom’s legacy, most of you are aware that I’ve been busy writing a book. The purpose of the book serves 2 goals:
- To educate and prepare the pre-retiree to think through retirement from a non-financial aspect. To encourage them to continue a life of meaning beyond retirement.
- To provide scholarship funds to nursing students that are attending the University of Findlay. Five years ago, my wife and I set up the Pamela M. Hixon Memorial Scholarship Fund that provides scholarship funds for students who have financial need and good grades. All proceeds from the sale of this book will help grow the fund so we can distribute even more scholarships.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that my original goal was to release the book this month, to honor the 10-year anniversary of the celebration of Mom’s life. Well, I can honestly say I tried. I tried really hard. I’m often reminded by the saying “There is no such thing as an unrealistic goal, but there is such thing as an unrealistic deadline.” In a word: COVID. Between having to navigate 2020 with my clients and my business, I ran short on time and, quite honestly, energy, to write the book.
But, not one to give up, I’m happy to announce that the book will still be released this year! I’ve been busy (along with my team at Hixon Zuercher Capital Management) hiring a self-publisher (Greenleaf Book Group), getting the manuscript edited and prepped for book form, getting the book cover designed, and securing endorsements. We will be fully ready to launch and release in September 2021!
Honestly, I’m disappointed I missed my self-imposed March deadline. But I’m learning to forgive myself. I know this book is important, and I will see it through. Retirees are underserved by our industry. By focusing solely on the ‘numbers’ of retirement, we miss potential blind spots that retirees face such as finding purpose and fulfillment. This book will outline important steps pre-retirees need to take and encourage the reader to reflect on concepts that they must contemplate before pulling the trigger to retire.
Many who have followed me for a while know that I was interviewed on a podcast a few years ago by a pastor friend of mine, Tony Miltenberger. For those interested in the deeper story of what happened to Mom, and the puzzle pieces we’ve managed to put together over the years, I invite you to check out The Reclamation Podcast, Episode 12.
You can also listen to this episode on any of these popular podcasting platforms:
To my faithful friends and followers who’ve stood beside me through thick and thin over the past 10 years, I thank you. This story needs to be told, and I’m excited to share it with you!
September 2021…the countdown is on!