How 1 Member Planned, and Now Lives, Her Dream

Esmeralda Figueroa always dreamed of someday becoming a grandmother — more specifically, an abuelita (which is akin to “granny”).

By Lindsay Livingston

When she was a young married woman, and a mother of two, her own mother lived far away, and she didn’t like leaving her babies with different sitters.

Once her kids were grown and started having their own babies, Esmeralda began carefully doing the math. Could she retire soon? “I wrote down every bill that I had,” she says, “my house, my car, my utilities, lawn services.” And she set herself on a budget.

A former Collin County Sheriff Deputy, Esmeralda was grateful for her TCDRS benefit, so she could retire at the right time for her family. “If anybody is thinking about retiring or saving with TCDRS — leave that money alone! You won’t miss it! Let it grow.”

Esmeralda retired at 56, before she qualified for Social Security. Still, she was content with the budget she was able to set for herself the last four years. “It’s been tight, but I weigh the emotions and the love that I get from my grandkids over having to get up every day, go into work, work overtime, and be on call.”

Retiring can mean a lot of joy and newfound freedom, but it can also leave something to be desired. For Esmeralda, it’s her grandkids. “They keep me busy! A lot of people continue to work because they get bored, but I have plenty to do with these little ones.”

Leaving your career behind is never an easy decision. After 29 years in law enforcement, Esmeralda was ready. And it wasn’t just that her grandbabies were running to her and screaming her name.

“You just know,” says Esmeralda. “When you’re tired, and it doesn’t seem fun anymore, it’s time to go.”

Despite dedicating her entire career, and retirement, to serving others, Esmeralda is not forgetting to take care of herself. “One of the first things I did when I retired was, I caught up with my sleep! I stay up and sleep in as late as I want, I read and study my Bible a lot.”

“Life is wonderful,” she says. “I am living my dream.”


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