BASSETT — Any given day, you’ll find Shirley Amos at Riverview Flowers and Gifts, located at 3815 Fairystone Park Highway. She’s not there looking for the perfect bouquet; she’s there making it.
When she sold her flower shop in Collinsville in 2014 after operating the business for 24 years, Amos said she felt like her days as a florist had come to an abrupt end. They had to – her husband had a brain tumor and soon would undergo surgery.
Even though Amos had her dream job, she didn’t give closing her doors — and that chapter of her life — a second thought. She wanted to care for the love of her life above anything else.
“It bothered me to sell, but I felt like I had to. I was so stressed about how my husband’s surgery would go,” Amos said. “I didn’t know what to expect.”
Thankfully, the surgery went far better than Amos had anticipated, and her husband recovered well. Grateful for the good report, Amos began restructuring her life. However, the excitement of retirement that many people feel didn’t hit Amos the same way.
“Everyone talked about these being the golden years,” Amos said. “No one told me gold would rust.”
Whether retirees break back into the workforce or kick up their feet and relax, there’s no right or wrong way to spend some of the most rewarding years of one’s life. It’s a great time to have fun, let loose and follow personal interests – whatever they may be.
But not everyone is ready for that, and there are contrasting views of how the “retirement years” might play out.
“Sitting around, you lose your smile and everything else”
The exuberant, humorous, glass-half-full optimist didn’t feel the same as she did before she closed up shop.
“It [closing] did have a big impact,” Amos said. “I began to miss my florist. The people, I missed the most.”
Amos said that many friends and customers respected the private nature of her husband’s recovery time, but not seeing the people she had come to know and love from two decades in business wore on the extrovert.
“I got very depressed at home. Sitting around, you lose your smile and everything else,” Amos said. “If you stay out a long time, you start laying around and not staying active. You just feel bad when you sit around. We need to move around and do something. We need to make ourselves move around and do something.”
Preferring busyness, Amos said she prayed to God, asking him to get her out of the house. It wasn’t long after that prayer that a long-time friend, Paul Kennedy Jr., called Amos out of the blue.
Kennedy told Amos that he had bought a building up for auction in Bassett, right down the road from a business that he co-owns, Bassett Funeral Services. He told Amos about his idea to open a flower shop in the space and asked her to manage it.
“My husband was doing so much better,” Amos said. “I talked to my husband about it. He said, ‘You need to. Why don’t you go ahead? I can see you miss it.’”
When Amos opened shop in October 2017, it was as if she never had spent a day away from the industry. Former customers and new clients alike flocked to the florist.
“They told me they loved me and they missed me and all that,” Amos said.
A year and a half later, business still booms at the building in Bassett.
“It’s wonderful, awesome. It’s just so good to be back,” Amos said.
A sign above the front door sums up the shop in a few fitting words: friends and flowers meet here.
“The best part is seeing these wonderful people from day to day,” Amos said. “That’s what I love, the people and the flowers. Women will come in and have a real good time just talking.”
Back in her element, this former retiree said she never is retiring again.
“I don’t want to retire. I want to work until the last day,” Amos said. “I’ve told several people I would rather be working and go. Just drop and go. This is wonderful. It’s just a great blessing.”
“There’s a long list of stuff I wanted to do”
On the other end of the spectrum, you couldn’t pay Carolyn Shough to retire from retirement. A former banker, who worked at a variety of local banks in commercial and small business lending for more than 30 years, she said she enjoys retirement while looking back on her career with pride and satisfaction for a job well done.
Ironically, Shough didn’t bank on banking. She earned a degree as a business education teacher and landed a job at a school in Lynchburg. Shough taught for one year before moving to Martinsville.
When she arrived at “the city without limits,” she said she quickly realized that the jobs in her specialty were limited. There were no openings available for her teaching interests.
“I needed a job. I had loans to pay,” Shough said.
She applied for a job at a local bank, but she said she didn’t realize at the time how drastically the decision would impact her life.
“I worked there and continued to work there,” Shough said. “I never looked back. I really enjoyed it. I really think there was an angel on my shoulder.”
Shough enjoyed working with her clients most of all. Unlike a house loan or car loan where people work with a banker for a few weeks and never cross paths again, Shough worked side by side with her clients and got to know them well.
“I developed good friendships,” Shough said.
While she loved her job, Shough said she also anticipated retirement.
“I reached the magical age of 62. Sometimes, I know people keep on working, but there was a long list of stuff I wanted to do,” Shough said.
Just like accepting the job in banking more than three decades ago, retiring is one of the best decisions Shough ever made, she said.
“If everybody likes retirement as much as I do, we are a happy world,” Shough said.
Now, Shough travels with her husband, visits her 96-year-old mother in Roanoke and enjoys volunteering in the Martinsville area.
There’s no need to purchase a Caribbean Island getaway home for Shough — no, she’s happy exploring retirement activities right here in Martinsville.
“People say they’re so bored, or they don’t have anything to do. It’s their own fault,” Shough said. “We’ve got all these wonderful trails and canoeing.”
She said she looks forward to taking advantage of all Martinsville has to offer, as well as giving back to her community by volunteering at organizations like the United Way of Henry County and Martinsville and serving on the Patrick Henry Community College Foundation Board of Directors.
“I enjoy being involved in the community,” Shough said. “I think we have a wonderful community here.”