Jun. 28th, 2017

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When I retired on June 30th last year (almost a whole year now!) I knew that it might be tough adjusting to a new lifestyle. After all, I had continued working after having my two children and that was back in the day when working mothers were given only three months' paid maternity leave and fathers none! (Now it's a year for both, I believe. Such a huge difference that would have made in my day. But on reflection I think my experience made me a tougher person and able to deal with anything that came my way.)

Anyway, I've discovered that retirement isn't easy! It requires a huge adjustment from living a life of organization to one of a freewheeling mess that I am not used to and don't particularly enjoy!

A year ago I couldn't wait for my last day of work to come. I felt quite impatient waiting for it and slacked off something terrible because I was suddenly sick and tired of our patients and what I perceived as all their whining. Obviously, that was a terrible attitude to have when dealing with sick people but I wouldn't let anyone see it and basically left my co-workers to handle these patients. And when my last day finally came I was ecstatic. One of my co-workers drove me home with all the gifts I received from patients and colleagues alike - I felt quite loved when I saw the stuff that she dumped out all over my front lawn but also relieved that the past 50 years of working were finally over.

My boss asked me what I was going to do first and I told him "Sleep for a week and then get up and figure things out!" I did accomplish the first part, sleeping for a week, waking in the summer mornings with the sunlight streaming through my windows, stretching like a cat before turning over and falling back to sleep again, wearing my pyjamas all day long and not doing a single thing that required any mental or physical effort. It was a week of heaven.

Then my daughter arrived to spend a month with us. She took me shopping for plants and gardening supplies because the first thing I wanted to do was plant a beautiful garden and keep it nice. The best thing about that month was that I got to spend all that quality time with her. We went on a few hikes despite the hideously hot weather last summer and we spent a lot of time sitting on the patio sipping cold drinks while watching the flowers grow. Or else we'd go shopping, for clothes, gardening stuff, pretty things for the house that we didn't need. My boss had given me $5,000 as a parting gift that I just blew.

At the same time my husband and I decided that we were going to pay off the rest of our mortgage from our savings (there wasn't that much mortgage left) since I wouldn't be having anymore employment income. We also had our swimming pool closed and filled in and covered up with new sod to create a beautiful grassy backyard that everyone could enjoy. It had been years since anyone used the pool and it needed a new lining that would have cost as much as the fill-in, plus the extra expense on our monthly hydro bill for running the pool heater.

All that made me think I was on the right track. I began organizing the huge clutter bomb that our basement had become and pulled out a few items that we could put up for our garage sale that we held last July. But we didn't sell very much stuff and after a good start on the basement mess I haven't really made any inroads since. Once in awhile I will get off my ass and go downstairs to tackle it again. But what usually happens is that I'll come across something I want to use again and I'll drag it back upstairs. This happened with a bunch of cookbooks that I hadn't used in years but they gave me the idea that I'd like to start making dishes again from scratch and that became my new hobby for awhile. Now there are piles of cookbooks scattered over the family room and it's a cluttered mess right now. In fact, the whole house is a cluttered mess and needs a good clearout.

I'm sensing a pattern here. I go down to the basement to clear out the clutter, find something that piques my interest (heaven help me if I come across my old scrapbooking stuff), drag it upstairs where it piles up, clear the clutter from upstairs and take it down to the basement again where it piles up. I'm facepalming right now just thinking about it.

What I need to do is what used to be called a good spring cleaning. I want to begin with the kitchen cupboards, take out everything that we haven't used for years, dispose of it in the garbage and retain one or two cupboards for storing the cookbooks that I brought up from the basement. Then I'll move on from there and clear out every room in the house, one at a time, leaving the basement for last. It could take years and it's still in the stage where I'm just thinking about doing it but haven't done anything yet.

What I really hate is this feeing of indecisiveness and ennui (laziness) that has taken me over! I wasn't like this when I was still working!

Real life has gotten in the way too, and has made me sad and a bit anxiety-ridden, which hasn't helped me become more efficient around the house. My husband suffered two cerebral hemorrhages in January, spending a week in hospital to recover, and while he was very, very lucky to not have too much lasting damage in a physical sense, he has definitely experienced cognitive changes that are sometimes quite challenging to deal with. Besides increased anxiety on his part, he forgets things very easily and requires much repetition before sometimes understanding what I'm saying to him. It appears as if he is not listening to anything I'm saying but it's really that he's not comprehending. He will sometimes use the wrong word to describe something, or he is incapable of description altogether. I worry about him driving - once on our way to the library he went to make a left turn into the path of a car coming toward us. It was as if he didn't see the other car at all. That scared the shit out of me. It was only one time but nobody can afford to make one major mistake on the road.

Then our son who had borrowed our 'good' car had a minor accident on the way to work not long ago that left the car with a crumpled front end, two broken headlights and a damaged air conditioner. My husband was so mad at him he made Jamie take his own car back out of our garage where he had stored it and drive it in the winter (which was something he didn't want to do and was why he borrowed our car in the first place). He then bought two new headlights for the car and hammered out the dents in the front so it looks passable and we've been driving it. It just doesn't have air conditioning but we've been lucky so far that it's been such a cool spring that we haven't needed it.

Just now I've heard from my daughter who was supposed to come for the long weekend next Saturday, but last night her car died and she had to have it towed home! She lives about an hour and a half away from us by car. She was at the mall and had to take a bus home. It was the last bus and she didn't get home until 1:00 a.m. She and her husband have an appointment on Friday at a dealership to buy or lease a new car but she can't come over to see us now. Sean hasn't seen her for awhile and is disappointed. She is his real mother although we are his legal guardians as well as his grandparents and he lives with us. A long story best left for another time.

It just seems as if the family drama is all happening right now and I feel jittery and not able to concentrate on anything else. Plus I am heartsick about having to cancel a trip I was planning to take next month to Vermont for a special event. I would have been meeting some online friends that I've had for years and was looking forward to with much pleasant anticipation. I thought it would be possible to go but when I told my husband about it (I purposely kept it from him until very recently because of his tendency to forget things) he freaked out and said he didn't want to be separated from me for even two-three days because if something happened to him (another cerebral hemorrhage or something worse) then nobody would be around to discover his body lying on the floor. He was so full of anxiety that I had to cancel my plans. I'm devastated about it but I understand his feelings as well. He would be alone for those few days. Our son Jamie was going to drive me to Vermont and stay with me of course, and Sean won't be here because he's going to the cottage that week with his other grandma. Olivia probably wouldn't be available to come over because her two little kids would be off school and her husband needs to work. She could bring the kids with her but doesn't want to because my husband (her father) told her that he needs his peace and quiet and doesn't want noisy little kids around. (Believe me, they are very noisy! But I love them.)

Anyway, I feel very bad right now. I've been trying to write some stories that are overdue for challenges I entered but my mind is so scattered that I cannot concentrate. I think I left out some things I wanted to add to this post too, but it's long enough as is so I'll just end it here for now.

Peace out, everybody. Don't feel bad for me, I always want to keep a positive view and I'm sure everything will get better sooner rather than later.


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