The Catalyst for Retirement

Dad cropped for blog

Noisy, circa 1943

Bill’s father was an unskilled labourer. Like thousands of his generation he served in WWII, in his case as a Sapper in the 23rd Australian Field Company, Royal Australian Engineers.

When he returned, he got a job in a factory, fathered two sons and went on with his life, never speaking about his war experiences. Nicknamed “Noisy” by his mates, he was a quiet man who led a simple life, never travelling or straying too far from his home base at Coogee. He never bought a house, never owned a car. The beach, the pub, the club and family were his main interests. He got a start on the waterfront in the days before mechanisation, loading and unloading cargo by hand and hoist on the various wharves around Sydney. Casual shift work that he reached by public transport. He was still working in 1974, when an observant family member noticed that he was walking a little out of kilter, unable to stay on a straight line. He was diagnosed with brain tumours and passed away within six weeks. He was 58 years old.

His father’s early death has always irked Bill. He feels that his father was robbed of his time, and he is filthy on the thought that he never had any retirement years – no time to relax and enjoy some freedom with his wife. To get out and live a little, or just potter around doing whatever made him happy.

When Bill entered his fifties, his father’s experience plagued Bill more often. He didn’t want life to cheat him in the way he felt it had his father. We started to plan for the day that he would retire. We were living in an apartment in inner Sydney – extremely handy for work and entertainment – but a utilitarian unit that did not offer much in the way of external ambience. There were more people living in our city block than the population of one of the country towns which I visited regularly for work. It was not the sort of place to sit on the balcony and contemplate life. We kept our eyes open for where we might live when we were no longer busy with work.

One day in 2005, when Bill was fifty-six, I rang an agent about an apartment I had seen advertised in Wollongong, ninety minutes south of Sydney. The agent spoke to me about another complex which had just come on the market, selling off the plan. The demographic was the over-55 market. We hadn’t been thinking about that at all, but the lifestyle amenities sounded interesting, and I thought I would talk it over with Bill that night.

He walked in the door brandishing a newspaper. “Look at this!” He was all excited about a half page ad for a complex at Wollongong. Bingo! We had discovered the same place, on the same day. Serendipity.

Within the month we had exchanged contracts, with the idea that the complex would be completed in four years. In the end, it was completed ahead of time, and we moved in August 2008.

Bill logged off his computer, put down his pen, and picked up a golf club, mere weeks before his fifty-ninth birthday. He’d achieved what his father could not.

Our road to retirement had begun.

17 thoughts on “The Catalyst for Retirement

  1. I have read this before and thought it both interesting and delightful, but this time round it is more meaningful to me as I see accepting and preparing for retirement is more than sensible. My father has been retired now for 28 years and during that time he has moved nine times including to Spain and back. I think self-knowledge and a realistic appreciation of what being retired means makes for better choices as you and Bill have obviously made.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Retirement wasn’t MY choice I hasten to add. And I could never think of YOU as retired. But we do change and evolve and adjust our focus. Mellowing – is that what they call it?
      If I lived in England I would drift across to the continent over and over – every chance I got. One of the things I miss about having returned to my Australian roots. And Spring. I miss Spring. And Autumn. Even, occasionally, I miss winter’s snow.
      But from here in Oz, England appears as such a vast, distinctive landscape, that if I had the choice to live anywhere there I liked – I wouldn’t know where to start.! LOL.
      By the way, for two terms I went to an organisation called “The School for Self-Knowledge” It was lovely for a time, but I didn’t really know what I was doing apart from learning to live in the moment, and gain listening skills and wisdom.
      Eventually it became too esoteric for me to feel at home.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wow, such a coincidence only last night my sister phoned and we got to discussing the ‘humans’ inability to live in the moment’ problem. I am trying to get there, but I don’t find it easy. And, as for retiring, I would like to, but have another six years to go. ☹️

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Clanmother! I’ve just had a look around your site and so love what you’re doing. It’s a struggle to find time to do all my blogging virtual friends justice, but I’ve hooked up to follow you, although I may not always comment 🙂 .

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on The Reluctant Retiree and commented:

    It’s hard to believe it is eight years since I took up blogging. These days, I have plenty of ideas but not so much time. The blog began as a way of documenting an upcoming European Holiday, and was first called “55 Days with Gwen” the reason for which will become obvious in the next few posts.
    I was scrolling through those a few days ago, and it occurred to me, that while we all have a wings clipped for the time being, why not revisit a virtual holiday? Some followers have been with me since the beginning of this blogging experience – thank you – but for others, the stories will be new.
    First of all, the background to how I became, ‘The Reluctant Retiree’.

    Liked by 1 person

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