It’s been more than 30 years since the youngest of our 3 sons moved out of the family home After a very busy family life, we had to adapt to just the two of us rattling around a four-bedroom house. With both of us having substantial work responsibilities the change was not so noticeable at first but once we retired it was very different.
This year things have changed again if only for a while. We now have two generations of retirees living in the one house. Our eldest son and his wife resigned from their work in Geneva in the middle of the year with the intention of moving to Australia. Covid complicated the process but they are now living with us here in Melbourne for a few months. They may be retirees, like us, but the age gap is enormous.
Their return to Australia was, to say the least, stressful. Normal commercial flights booked to Australia had been booked for months along with the expectation of quarantine in a Melbourne hotel. With just a few days to go their flight was cancelled. They had vacated their house and all their possessions had been dispatched by container. All they had left was the contents of travel bags. We all had a miserable day and night worrying about what would be next, but within 24 hours they were offered an Australian government repatriation flight leaving just a few days later. What a relief. Was this the Australian government ensuring the repatriation flights were full? We will never know. The revised booking meant a dash to Frankfurt for two days in a quarantine hotel with Covid tests morning and night before the flight. The upside was that they landed in Darwin and spent their two weeks quarantine in Howard Springs. Howard Springs is on the edge of Lysterfield National Park and their accommodation was a small individual cabin with an open veranda and individual air conditioning. It was luxury compared to city hotel quarantine. They could enjoy their outdoor veranda until it got too hot. They could chat to their neighbours and swap stories. They could see trees and native birds were all around. Every few days they were allowed a walk to the laundry to wash their clothes, a highlight of the week. The airline cancellation was traumatic but the end result was very lucky.
Its hard believe that the two young people living with us are beginning their retirement journey. They are young to us even if they are retired. It just makes me realise how old we have become. We have become very set in our ways and the last two years of Covid have not helped. Having two people over 25 years younger than us with much more energy has shaken things up. They have retired early and are looking forward to a very active life free of work obligations. We now have more cooks sharing the work load but that comes with a change to vegetarian food. I’m amazed how good it can be and haven’t really missed eating meat. Disruption is no bad thing. It questions habits and routine which may have become engrained and not be contributing to life. It might just free us of the habits induced by the limitations of Covid.
There are numerous jobs around the house which I have been intending to do: sometime. The new energy has attacked them and I’m sure all will be fixed. By the time they have moved out there will be nothing left for me to do. It makes me realize that I may have lost some drive.
Reflecting on the length of time we have been retired our daughter in law asked a very salient question, “have we done all the things we expected to do when we retired?” To answer that question, I have to remember the things we had planned and that’s not easy. We have certainly come close but more importantly we have found so many new things that we never considered. Opportunities which we never thought of have cropped up and we have grabbed them. If there is something we planned and haven’t done, it has faded into insignificance. We have had our wings clipped by Covid as far as travel is concerned both within Australia and overseas. That was definitely not part of the plan but we have always accepted that at some time age will limit our ability to get around. Thankfully we are now in our 80s and still very mobile. We are looking forward to going to Europe again, hopefully next year, to catch up with family and friends.
The question also assumed that we had a comprehensive plan which was not the case. Our decision to retire was the start of a new exploration to see what we could do that didn’t involve earning a living. It’s been an exciting journey which our son and his wife are just beginning.
For us we will be keeping the exploration going just as long as we have the health to do so.
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