The Retired Life

Today is one of those days I used to dream about when I was a working person.  I’m watching bits of CNN on You Tube, sitting in a clean and tidy house, and hanging with two cats and two dogs.  It’s almost too good to be true.

Once I’ve written this I plan to grab some pruning shears and try to tame the pyracantha bush in the xeriscape garden.  If you own one of these you’re wincing as you read this, as this horrible bush is covered in mean thorns.

But it seemed to be such a good idea 25 years ago when I bought it as a small potted plant.  It’s now the size of a Volkswagen beetle, so clearly I’ve allowed it to get out of hand quite badly.

It’s odd to be out gardening mid-January, but this winter it’s so mild there’s no point in waiting.  Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to the heat of the Yucatan in February when Margaret and I return for another bit of Mayan adventure.

On days like this I think of my mother-in-law who had raised 11 children.  She retired to Sechelt and lived very close to the local seniors centre.  Her kids would urge her to walk down there and partake, and she’d always reply “I just want to be quiet.”

Her idea of bliss was her cigarette, CBC radio, the dog on her lap, while completing a crossword puzzle.  I can totally relate to that level of excitement after raising just two kids but working 40 years on top of that.  I always say I have PTSD from work.

Last night Margaret was over for dinner and I was telling her how I always wanted to be at home, and she said she feels the same way.  I was recalling my early days as a teacher of the deaf in Prince George.

I had three students in my class, while next door there were 30 kids in each of the other grades.  As a result I could arrive when the school bell rang, and leave as it was ringing to end the day.  I always went home for lunch.

I guess you’re thinking well there’s nothing much to have PTSD about there, and it’s true.  That was a sweet gig.  But after ten years of that when we move to Kelowna and no teachers of the deaf were required, I had to reinvent myself and then ran a business with a partner for 15 years.

I think that’s when the PTSD set in as we were overachievers.  At one point we had several contracts and 10 staff and I was one of those working moms who tried to pretend to the kids that all was normal at home.  As a result, I always made us lovely dinners so no one would notice.

And not to mention other work I’ve had including a terrible stint at a bank, waitressing, having a fruitcake business, medical office receptionist, and self employed vocational rehabilitation consultant.

And so today on a dreary, overcast gray Okanagan day I’m very happy to reflect back on the working life, but can honestly say I prefer the life I’m now able to live.  I suppose the truth of it is I’m content to do very little.

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