Random stuff, reflections on the meaning of life and death, humour, self-deprecation, a bit of bad poetry.

It’s been ten months since my dad died and as many months since I retired, these two events followed by a string of unfortunate incidents and other losses, difficult to measure against those major ones.

When people ask me how I am enjoying my retirement, I tell them I am only semi-retired now, having returned to work two days a week, cutting that loss to a little less than half its value.

Work days start off with black coffee and culminate in a sixteen hour fast. I am much more disciplined with the rigidity of structure. I keep a few ginger lemon drops in my pocket for the drive home to break my fast, my reward for getting through the day.

Days off start with pain in my right hip as soon as I slide off the bed and hit the floor. That’s a long way down at my height. To save my hip, my husband carries one of our elderly dogs, who is lame and low vision, down the stairs. I feed the dogs and tend to our four birds. I pour a little black coffee in my cream. On unstructured days, I need the comfort of cream like a buffer for the day. I sit in my chair by the window and bend my back rather than my knees to hoist the needier of my two dogs onto my lap. He’ll jump down a few minutes later, then whine to be picked up again. I do the New York Times Wordle, always starting with the word « aloud » to take care of three out of five vowels. Then it’s the mini crossword while my cockatoo screams for attention, my cockatiel whistles her flock call, my Linnie does a soft wolf whistle and my parrotlet forages noisily for seeds. A morning person, I no longer exercise in the morning; it is the beginning of my demise.

There are always lots of chores and errands to do on my days off and every day off or thereabouts, I visit my mother at the senior’s residence where she was placed after my father died. It is a beautiful place filled with light, birds, dogs, caring workers and good intentions. It is the place I chose for her, five minutes from my house. As wonderful as I think it is, it is not home. Rather, it is where we dropped her off when caring for her became inconvenient.

To grow old is to lose everything as your life winds down and you are waiting to die. It is to be forgotten if not by all then by many.

What is semi-retirement like when you are caregiver to a parent? It is dutiful love or loving duty, heartbreak, anguished guilt on the days you don’t go visit.

I sandwich the days off with coffee in my cream and chocolate. I wear boyfriend shirts to hide the filling. My husband carries our gimpy dog up the stairs. I set the alarm for another day.

12 thoughts on “Semi-retirement

  1. Brian says:

    Gritty and honest, and well-written!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. bogeyandruby says:

      Thanks so much, Brian. I appreciate that!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Bonnie Davis says:

    Well written Sharon. Caring for aged parents is not an easy job. While I never had to shoulder that responsibility, I watched my brother lose his whole life while devoting himself to caring for both of them. The elderly become part of the invisible people. We know they are there, we care for them, yet we don’t really see them. This is where I am struggling. I’m fast sliding into that weird realm of invisibility, where I’m no longer relevant. Where I’m seen through eyes that dismiss you before I’m really seen. We are older damnit, not yet dead! We still have much to say and do in our time left on this earth. We still work, run households, tend to our “in home” zoos, but in the eyes of the young beautiful people we are irrelevant. We were once, the future….and now, we are old school, and sliding ever so quickly into the past.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. bogeyandruby says:

      Thanks, Bonnie. We lose our parents as we lose pieces of ourselves. In someways, I embrace this irrelevance and let go of concerns I had when I was younger. The focus on looks and presentation becomes more on health and wellness, inner peace. It’s like trying to come home to yourself while still adrift. As for the beautiful young people, I place my hope in them, try to mentor where I can, and appreciate their radiance. They are young, yes, but with all sorts of challenges. « The way to stay beautiful is to avoid mirrors and look only at those who truly love back. » — Ann Menebroker ❤️


  3. Carol Steadman says:

    Hi Sharon thank you for sharing, always a treat to read. Look forward to the next BOGEYANDRUBY.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. bogeyandruby says:

      Thanks so much, Carol! 🙏😊


  4. Dearest Sharon, your words shimmer in love and truth touching something deep inside. I turn 70 this year. I keep trying to figure out ‘what does that mean?’ And keep coming back to nothing. It isn’t the number that gives me meaning. It’s how I love each day – let me live it moment by moment sandwiching the good and not so good in love. And perhaps that way I’ll discover the opposite of ‘losing everything’ as you so beautifully and poignantly describe is to gain the all of everything I love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. bogeyandruby says:

      Thanks for your beautiful words, Louise; they unfold like poetry. It is an interesting quagmire to be semi-retired yet surrounded by upheaval. I long so much to sit still, to float, to just be, with absolutely nothing in my calendar for a stretch of days. I think you are onto something in living moment by moment. You radiate love and you create love with your art and your words. Nothing flipped on its back becomes everything. ❤️


  5. Live & Learn says:

    Beautiful. Moved.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. bogeyandruby says:

      Thank you, David. 🙏


  6. Kiki says:

    Sharon, I know so well what you say in such loving and also resigned words. We were 4 children and once on a short trip back home from (living) abroad we held a family conference. I said then that, as much and wholeheartedly I loved my parents, I would NOT care for them (take them to my home) in their old age but that I would be there for them in every other way. They were thankful for my and my siblings‘ honesty; they would never have wished to live with any of us anyway. I had seen the ‚damage’ caring for an elderly parent did to your relationship within the own family and since those experiences I knew this wasn’t for me.
    Then, some 15yrs after my dad died, my mum died last year in early February. 6 wks later her oldest sister, then in her 99th year, had a very bad accident. Two days after, during a hospital visit, she said to me: You know how much I loved Heidi (mum). But now she did me a favour with her death, you now have more time to look after me….. Family, relatives, charges, goodness and the ‘being taken for granted’, such heavy words. I seriously start thinking that pets definitely are better ‘people’ than humans as they never cut you out of their life, never treat you badly, never hurt your heart and feelings. And yet, and yet: Even with all our illnesses, our duties, our often difficult families, it’s worth our attention, love and (with limits) dedication. Just don’t lose yourself and try to stay as healthy as you can. Your inner health is the most important bit; if you’re happy inwardly, the outward world is bearable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. bogeyandruby says:

      Thanks, Kiki, for sharing your perspective and experience. I so appreciate the feedback whether it is validation for similar situations or good examples of setting boundaries. My mantra is that I am not responsible for anyone else’s happiness. In my mum’s case, i make sure her needs are met and that she is cared for and safe. I feel no matter how often I visit, I cannot assuage the loneliness she feels at the loss of her life partner and best friend. It sucks to be the one left behind. I appreciate your kindness. Hope you are keeping well and have plans to look forward to this summer xxx

      Liked by 1 person

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