As things are moving along now and our goal is within reach, the reality of actually ‘retiring’ is drawing ever nearer. Initially when the idea of moving, again, was discussed I felt I wasn’t ready to give up my career. Let alone the upheaval, getting to know your way around a new area, making new friends, I deemed myself fortunate to have obtained my position as practice nurse at a charming village surgery. I love the autonomy, variety and responsibility of my job; I make a difference to peoples’ lives. I have got to know a lot of the regulars, their families and feel part of their lives. I have set up a support group for diabetics because they need continuing support and education and this is an ever-growing disease. I have worked hard to get this far, it wasn’t easy going back to doing education at university level in my late 30’s with two young daughters. I am proud to call myself a nurse. I love the banter and social nights out with the other staff members. I have made a ‘life long’ friend who I know I could depend on and will keep in touch with for years to come. And I get paid a decent salary, why would I want to jack all that in?
Basically, I’m knackered! Working and family life take up so much time and energy, these days I just think of all the projects I would like to do. I long to be in the garden creating a veg patch from a tangle of 6 foot high brambles, but know I will need a day to recover the next day before going off to work again. I find it incredible that the government keep moving the goal posts for official retirement age, currently for me it will be when I reach 67. Bloody hell I will have truly lost half my marbles by then, how can that be safe practice? I know it’s all down to funding pensions for an ever growing, long living elderly population, but we have actually earned it. I could go on about where money is inappropriately dished out, in my opinion, but let’s not go there.
When the seed was planted by my daughter & son-in-law (they discuss these ideas first between themselves to see how ridiculous or feasible they are) that there could be a way of retiring sooner, it didn’t take long for a monstrous oak to appear. Yes, I would miss my work colleagues and secure income, but not the ever demanding patients with increasingly high expectations for me to whip out my magic wand or crystal ball. I won’t miss the bureaucracy that has taken the care away from the NHS. Box ticking exercises that take 50% of my consultation time, the increasing annual fees I have to pay for the privilege of practicing as a nurse, the audacity that I have to continually prove my competence that insults my professionalism. Yes, I have served my time in the NHS, given my best 20 years, time to pass the baton. I do hope they don’t stop the student nurse bursary, which would be the final nail in the NHS.
With the move settling on France, even contemplating the idea of carrying on nursing was preposterous. We have found our dream home (no.2) in an idyllic area offering a slower pace and golden quality of life. There are year round activities, sunshine and the French joie de vivre – spending time together eating and drinking.
I do not foresee a lonely cocooned retirement, my family will see to that. I am so privileged to be part of my grandchildren’s daily life and the continued joys of nurturing their growth and experiences. No doubt there will be many occasions where interactions with the guests will be stimulating and alcohol fuelled. Who knows what new friends are to be made?
Serendipitous with my job choices means I have contributed to two decent pension schemes. I will have a small income from my NHS and local government pensions that I can draw when sixty, enough to keep me in wine and cheese. Also, these pensions are exempt from tax in France. The UK state pension will be a bonus, if and when I get that. I will have to keep close accounting, no frivolous purchases on a whim. Like buying a Batman suit, “because Seb would love that”, or luxurious toiletries. Shopping experiences will be different anyway, no out of town malls to entice you to their entire discount, not to miss bargains. Shopping in France is more civilised, you go out and buy what you need, from a particular shop. Not go into a shop for a pair of shoes and come out with a small puppy. Anyway, I’ll have time to make my own toiletries, and fulfil my moral obligation to be more eco friendly to boot. The only problem I am apprehensive about is garden centres.
How will I develop my role if I am no longer a nurse? Well for start, once a nurse, always a nurse, it can’t be helped, it’s in our nature, I just won’t be wearing the badge. But I can wear jewellery, all day, every day, even if up to my axilla in brambles, because I can. I can have wildly painted fingernails. I can get up at dawn, dance naked around the field knowing that if I feel tired later I can have a nap, because I’m retired and that’s what retired people do, have naps. My hair can grow unruly and wild; I could get dreadlocks or wear childish colourful hair bands. If I get bored, in the heat of summer, I could give myself a number 3 buzz cut as I won’t be able to afford the hairdresser every six weeks. I won’t need to look like a sensible professional person in whom the masses entrusts their well being.
I have recently had a health scare, which makes me even more eager to retire as soon as possible, I feel I am only beginning to feel alive, there is so much more I plan to do. Will I miss going to work? Not the restraints it puts on your time, forever clock watching, habitually getting up and going through the morning routine certainly. I’ll miss my work mates, and possibly the only perk of the job – the annual flu jab (but then I won’t be surrounded by a miserable, snotty, coughing cesspool of humanity). Concluding, yes, it’s time to retire!