Gill & Gareth

The best thing about getting older is I no longer feel like I have anything to prove. I’m not hankering after stuff, we used to walk past a car and think oohh yeah, it would be nice to have a car like that, but I don’t feel like that any more. I’m not bothered. I’m looking forward to us having a slower pace of life, and having more time to spend together.

During our work we have reached the pinnacles of our careers, you know because you are always looking for the next thing. In retirement there is an end in sight. Because we both are/were teachers we work in very stressful and highly pressured environments. This has meant it has not been possible to slowly transition into retirement which means that it will feel like all or nothing.

Because I went back as a freelancer to work as an educational consultant, after I retired. It meant that when I did leave, I didn’t even have a retirement party.

Now, it does feel a little like a second childhood. And it does feel great in that sense. I see it as a new adventure. The hardest thing for me has been to be able to cope with knowing you don’t need to be after the next thing. I found I felt a loss of status because I wasn’t earning money. That was a hard thing to come around from, but earning is what I had had for my entire life.

It makes you really redefine your perspective, who am I, what do I want to be doing, and how should I be spending my time as a result of that?

I want to be able to go back to some of the things that I was discovering in my teenage years, I used to learn german, and I play the drums — I really want to invest time in them again. Finally I have time to read and write, and that is such a pleasure.

I want to be my own boss. During work, your always working for someone else, and you have to do the things you have to do. I’m looking forward to having more autonomy.

One of the hardest things is knowing how long I have left, is it a few years, I have seen all of the generations above us die, and we miss them and their company. And we are seeing death more as a thing on the horizon as opposed to this thing that is distant and generally only happens to grandparents.

Now it [death] feels much closer. I look at my family and all of them have some sort of chronic diseases, so I do worry that it could happen to me too. I’m guessing I have about 25 years left. My sister had dementia at a very young age, and my sister has died recently. We seem to be going to more funerals now than weddings and it’s like the people that are dying now are the ones that are closest to you — and that is scary. We have talked about what would happen if one of us went.