We’ve had a great response to our 50 Small Steps to being Fab after Fifty initiative, and Pat was keen to point out that she is definitely a believer in making changes large and small after 50! Pat shares her own personal experience of the changes she’s made since turning 50 with us.
Well, no not really – my retirement was slightly premature, I could have retired at 60, but had resolved to work until I was 65. Money being the main object really. You see I finally left a horrendous marriage at the age of 54, I know I should have left earlier, but I had only just built up enough self belief to do it.
I left with nothing, well £100 and my clothes, I had a reasonably well paid job, but no chance of getting a mortgage – I think our joint credit rating was somewhere in the minus! So I stayed with a son and his family for a few months until I had saved a fair amount – enough to pay for a deposit and the first month’s rent and moved in to my own little house.
I won’t bore you with all the details, but it took time to get some reasonable furniture etc together and I discovered cheap holidays abroad, so saving wasn’t my first priority.
Then it hit me, the years had gone past quickly, I was enjoying my life, at last – but I was now 58, so I sent off for a pension quote and asked for one from head office – it wasn’t enough to keep me! So I cut back on things and started saving, my life was fantastic and going so smoothly – or so I thought.
I had developed a nasty cough, smoking too much, the job was stressful and, having left behind an alcoholic husband, my only release was cigarettes. I kept getting bad bouts of bronchitis and at the age of 60 was admitted to hospital with pneumonia – then they told me I had COPD, a lung disease caused by smoking!
I continued working, although I found it difficult to walk from the bus stop up the hill to my office and by the time I was half way through my 61st year, realised that I couldn’t continue much longer, so I put in to retire the following January on my 62nd birthday.
I was dreading it, for the last few years my life had consisted of work, the job was not a 9-5 one and I would often attend meetings in the evening or weekend and I was often invited to social events by various branches or clubs of the Legion, and that was my social life!
Retirement arrived and I was seen off in some style, I had worked out my retirement finances so that for the next few years I could live without calling on the state, after all I’m not sure how long I will actually live. But I’m making them count!
First, I learned how to decorate – OK, I may only do a wall a week – but who cares, I’m doing it. Then I rediscovered my passion for books – I now have over 400, I went to boot fairs whenever I could, but having no car (my ex sold it just before I left him – well he was thirsty!) this can be a bit difficult and I discovered blogging!
I was already on Twitter as a means of getting stuff about the RBL out, but now I could be me and be politically incorrect if I wanted to be!
Next to be rediscovered was my passion for history, not the boring bits but the quirky bits, so I blogged about that and from that came suggestions that I write fiction. Well I’m really enjoying that as well – I’ve only done four stories so far, and the history is on the back burner – but its fun!
Now – politics – no I’m not canvassing or standing for election – I have been asked to, but the COPD precludes that. But a few years back there was a problem with that old chestnut, bin collection, the terrace of houses of which mine is one were not getting their bins emptied at all! I had tried ringing the council offices with middling results, but the rubbish on the piece of waste ground next to me stunk – it was summer and the flies were horrendous. In desperation, I found one of my local councillors e-mail addresses on the council web-site and contacted him. It took a few weeks of to-ing and fro-ing and I must admit some of my communications were a bit caustic, but it worked and poor councillor Stone finally won the day and for the last two years have been smell free!
Between us we have also sorted out one or two other local problems, the only one I’ll bore you with was the local school walking bus being endangered by cars parking right up to the light controlled crossing, and he’s kept in touch, although I had to refuse standing because of the COPD, but I’m going to be counting the votes at the local polling station – another new thing!
I’ll let you know how I get on – and remember each new day is a day to be lived, and if you don’t try something new, you will never know if you can do it or not! Retirement is the gateway to all those things you’ve never had time to do before!
You can read some of Pat’s short stories on Pat’s personal blog