No greater love has a retired man than getting his working wife out to her work every morning at 7.30am…before he goes back to bed for a couple of hours.
On Friday, I did that for the last time. Mrs FJH retired on Friday.
Unlike me…Mrs FJH has actually been working for nearly four decades making lives better in West Belfast. Unlike me…Mrs FJH is not lazy. I spent most of my working life, looking out for a raindrop so that I could phone in saying that I was trapped in a flood, a snowflake so that I could report a blizzard and a sneeze that could lead to six months off with pneumonia. I am married to a woman who has a work ethic and a devotion to making lives better. At times, it has been downright embarrassing.
But on Friday she retired. She has done her time.
Welcome to my world.
I think the dynamic has changed for both of us. Working five days a week means that there are “windows” available from 5pm on Friday to 9pm on a Sunday….hardly more than a few hours for grocery shopping, visiting family, going for a drive etc. It all seems to end too quickly with getting diesel for the car around 7pm on a Sunday night.
Initially…I dont think that my wife will notice much difference. I guess this feels like an ordinary weekend. Tomorrow will feel like a normal day off. And this week. And this month.
But there will be a dawning that this is how it is…forever. And its generally good. Actually…its always good.
For this is exactly the weekend we planned and lived for.
There was a time when we loaded two babies into a car and drove over the mountain into Belfast…twice a day.
And now those babies have babies or are about to have babies of their own.
And there are great joys and sad tragedies shared.
And more to come.
Thats the good thing about Retirement. Windows open.
The alarm clock has been disconnected. If we take a notion to go to Tesco at 2pm on a Tuesday, thats what we will do. And if we want to go on the train to Derry for the day, we will do it. Or if inlaws visit on Wednesday evening, we wont be watching the clock, thinking its an early start. If the grandchildren come to visit on a Thursday, it wont be unusual. I will no longer be the sole grandparent at the school nativity play, sports day and summer evening under-14 GAA match.
MY retirement was a good thing.
OUR retirement…an entirely different dynamic…will be a lot better.
It is empowering for us both…and the things I used to do to kill a few hours like going to An Féile, the annual festival in West Belfast to watch assorted spoofers from Sinn Féin and their admirers in the blogging community appear artistic and cultured, well it holds little appeal in 2016. But you can still read about it on Slugger O’Toole.
The Future is not a “public” thing.
The Future is surprisingly “personal”.
Others think the EU Referendum was about “our children and our childrens children”. Which is rhetorical bollix.
Our childrens future involves a son becoming a father for the first time.
Their childrens future involves a 3year old getting a pair of shoes to start “big school”.
We intend to enjoy it.