Today I have been thinking.
Now, to some who know me, that would be considered a dangerous thing.
Perhaps not, today anyway. However it has been an interesting thing for me. A bit interesting that is. You see, it’s a holiday Monday, here in Alberta it’s called Family Day.
One might imagine that due to the day, I would be thinking about family, and I did a little, however my main thinking has been about my retirement, and some of the factors which have been affecting it.
It is no surprise that topping the list has been COVID. I use capital letters here because that was the way it arrived. Now it has become more like #@&%*$ Covid.
For millions of people, the ramifications of Covid threw the proverbial monkey wrench into the system. My thinking today is more limited to retired folks, because I are one.
Back in late 2018 I retired for the final time, and yes, I even had plans. More than just plans, they were being put into practice.
For a good portion of the winter I would be in Malaysia, based at our apartment, spending time with family, friends and just doing some traveling around. My wife Kim would join me for part of the time as she was still working. The late spring, summer and early autumn would involve quite a bit of time on my motorcycle, going on rides with mates and fellow veterans, or just by myself touring around Alberta. On the weekends my wife and I would relax and travel around a bit, as well as being involved in weekend motorcycle and other community events.
For 2019 most went according to plan. I spent three months in Malaysia, Kim with me for a month. Summer saw some 6000 kilometres put on the bike and we were involved in various activities most every weekend. Right up to the end of the year we took part in both Kiwanis and veterans events. Life was doing okay.
2020 started out quite well, however there seemed to be ominous rumblings. Mid February Kim and I were off to Malaysia for six weeks. For the first three weeks we were joined by our daughter and her husband from Edmonton. For me this was a big event as she would meet her two sisters in Malaysia, in person for the very first time. (If you have been following my blog posts over the years you’ll know we have a blended family.)
After we arrived, the ominous rumblings increased, and people started talking about this Covid thing. The first three weeks went well, daughter and her husband headed home, and the rumblings increased. After another week they were more than rumblings and we reluctantly made the decision to err on the side of caution and headed back to Edmonton ten days earlier than planned.
Turns out, it was a good decision, as air traffic was essentially shut down shortly after we got home. We had to do our two week quarantine and then Kim was laid off as her workplace was shut down (only for about three months it turned out).
I’m sure that everyone is pretty familiar with what followed for the remainder of 2020 and basically all of 2021, so I’ll just talk about how this affected the retirement thing.
Now is a good time to touch on another factor affecting retirement, that being my health. I have always had a pretty robust immune system, however I have had some mobility issues, particularly in the last ten years. I was diagnosed with a bad hip and the decision was made to put me on the list for a total hip replacement. For those who have experienced this, it is an interesting process. Immediately I was scheduled for a whole battery of tests, including, but not limited to x-rays, heart tests, lung tests, dental tests, nervous systems tests, and more. These are all intended to determine if I was suitable for surgery.
All the tests were completed, however our friend Covid had laid a beating on all scheduled surgeries. Then, towards the end of 2021, I was notified to expect surgery in January 2022. About the same time I received a small injury to my lower leg and it was slow healing, which they thought likely due to me being diabetic. Injury, small or not, has a risk of infection, hence the surgery was cancelled.
Turned out that over the years I have developed poor circulation in my lower legs, causing my legs to be discoloured, and have extremally thin skin, which can be easily abrased, and any wounds would be very slow healing. Following that determination, there came extensive treatment by the wound clinic and home health care (kudos and thanks to these awesome medical professionals). End result, I will now be wearing compression stockings for the remainder of my time.
Good news is, the surgeon seems happy with my condition now and I may be looking at surgery in April of this year. After still more tests of course.
Now, back to this retirement thing.
Of course, any social activity had become a non-starter during 2020, so it was just me, or Kim and I, for the majority of the time. With my hip issues, I made the change from two wheels to three and bought a trike to ride. This made Kim happy and she now rode with me quite a bit. Between the two bikes I managed to put on over 8000 kilometres in 2020. As well the weather was helpful as Kim and I had our last ride of the year the first week of December. Throughout the year our riding was mostly solo. On the odd occasion we rode with others, whenever stopped we would be outside and maintain the suggested two metre distance.
For 2021, social activity remained at a minimum. Kim would go to work and get groceries, being masked and maintaining her distance at all times. Basically I would just stay home, so much that even Otis the cat was getting tired of me. Between the weather, a blown radiator and my leg issues, less than 4000 kilometres was accomplished on the bike. Veterans gatherings were almost nonexistent, while Kiwanis took on an extremely low profile.
2022 was more of the same, however we were starting to get out for our weekly dim sum, socially distanced of course. For me, I think Otis was starting to maybe like having me around, or not. He’s a cat so go figure. Very little riding this year, only about 4000 kilometres again. For my legs they were doing regular appointments as well as home care, so I had to be cautious and was not able to plan much. Come summer our veterans group was having weekly gatherings once more, however they were socially distanced in a parking lot. Oh well, at least we were getting together. Then in the fall, we were able to get together, actually inside. With some of our members being immune compromised, they were not comfortable attending. For Kiwanis, meetings were by Zoom only.
In September, we were lucky enough to add a vehicle to our garage. Defined as a Classic is our 1999 Mercedes SLK 230 sports car. For the next couple of months it was able to steal a few thousand kilometres from the trike, however they seem to get along well anyway. The nice thing is that it expands our ability to have some fun travel, day runs on the trike and longer with the Merc.
So now, here we are in 2023.
Soon it will be three years since we have seen our daughters and grandchildren in Malaysia. Otis and I have held down the home front with me getting out of the house for a few hours averaging one day a week. On occasion maybe two. Right now, this is retirement for me… my house. What day of the week is it? Oh it must be the weekend because Kim is home on Saturday and half of Sunday, and sometimes on a holiday (she works most holidays).
But, things are looking up. As I mentioned, possible surgery in April. Late last year I had a coffee with a friend, then with another friend in January, and now one tomorrow, this with a regular coffee mate from before Covid, but now for the first time in about two years or so. The two “summer rides” are resting in the garage, awaiting Spring and the opportunity to get out and about. An increased level of activity with Kiwanis is being contemplated. Our veterans group is getting together more often. And… we hope to be back in Malaysia about a year from now.
So… the retirement thing, what’s it all about. My experiences have been up and down, back and forth, good and bad. Well, that’s what life is, not only for me, but for every person experiencing the retirement thing. We are all different, not better or worse. All unique!
I’ve thrown a bit of light on my retirement thing, how is yours going?
Want to share? Please do! It would be great to hear from you.
Until next time. Ciao!