Monday, February 20, 2017

Mary Richards' Retirement

Mary Tyler Moore's recent death brought back fond memories of Mary Richards, the leading character in the Mary Tyler Moore Show. For many women in the 1970s, Mary Richards served as a role model for growing up as a self-sufficient professional woman. 

I rarely missed an episode of the show, captivated by Mary's lifestyle and independent spirit. I imaged having my own apartment in Minneapolis, just like Mary. After graduating from college, I applied for jobs in Minneapolis, just like Mary. As many other women my age, including Oprah Winfrey, I wanted to be Mary.

In my mind, Mary Richards will forever remain the young, independent, and spirited professional woman, and best friend to Rhoda. Knowing how much I admired Mary in her 30s, I'm curious about what I could learn from Mary if the Mary Tyler Moore Show continued to be on the air for 30 years, long enough that we could view two seasons of Mary's retirement years. If we idolized Mary in her younger years, what could Mary teach us about living in retirement?

I think Mary would continue to live with flare, humor, and courage. I wouldn’t mind if she gained a little weight (like many of us) but I doubt that she'd be having a boring retirement. I don't think she would accept mediocrity. So, today when I decided to go cross-country skiing instead of hanging around the house, I thought, "Yes, Mary would be out here."  

What else would Mary do? I think she would direct her energy and talents toward something important and meaningful. She would be "Mary" in a different setting. She would realize that not all her work was accomplished when she finished her career, but that she can build a new drama, one that reaches a high point in her later years.

Interestingly, when I think of Mary Richards 30 years later, the question, "Did she ever get married?" seems irrelevant. Thirty years later, if Mary Richards was married, I believe she would still have her single character, just as women today benefit from having their own identity in retirement. Sure we want shared goals and a vision for our future as a couple, but we also need to have our single goals. We need to keep writing our own script.

What can Mary Richards teach you about the way you want to live in retirement? You are the playwright, pen in hand, now write your own new drama.

"We're going to make it after all."

Copyright 2017. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

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