Five years ago this week I leapt off the corporate Carousel and cantered off into retirement. "You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream," I told everyone, grandly, quoting the great C.S. Lewis
(who never got to write a Daily Blog, having been born t'wirly.)
My other retirement mantra, which I trotted out with boring regularity, was short and simple:
"Because I Can!" I mean, that's what retirement is all about, isn't it?
Well, it is. And it isn't. Because over the last five years the one thing I have realised
is that Stuff Happens. Some of it's good, some of it's challenging, some can be expected, some takes you by surprise - but all of it is part of Life's Rich Tapestry.
Take grandchildren. No, not mine! Have some of your own if you can, either now or in the future and, if you can't, or don't want to, then you can skip the next paragraph if you wish. Though I'd far rather you didn't because you might lose the drift,
if you know what I mean. I can hear someone muttering that it's only too easy to lose the drift when reading the Daily Blog, even if you read every single paragraph faithfully...
Where was I! I've just lost my drift - ah, grandchildren...Now even before I retired My Boy and the Darling Daughter in Law had announced that they would be presenting me with a seventh grandchild as an extra special Retirement Gift. They had been planning
a Once In A Lifetime Holiday in some far-flung Paradise to celebrate their fortieth birthdays - then, in a quite awesome change of mind, decided to have a third child instead. Enter Young Morgan, known to you all as the Duracell Bunny because he never, ever
stops. A holiday, however special, is over soon enough but life without the Duracell Bunny would be so very much the poorer. Unthinkable, even.
So much, so expected.
What I hadn't bargained for was that before I'd been retired five years my Magnificent Seven grandchildren would become the Truly Tremendous Ten with the oh so welcome additions of The Rampaging Rascal and The Twinkles. Faris The Rascal will be going by to
school in September. His mother, the Middle of the Darling Daughters, has pinned up a new Reward Chart for him to encourage him to master all the things which will make life a little easier for his teachers - like being able to put on his coat, take himself
to the loo, do up his shoes. Some parents spend lots of time teaching their littl'uns their alphabet before they go to school but fail to teach the essentials of Life in Reception Class. The M of the DDs is determined to play her part - while The Rascal as
always has his eyes determinedly set on the prize at the end of the challenge. No, I can't remember what it is, but I expect it will be Dinosaur Related.
taken up all manner of new activities over the past five years, which regular readers know all about because I have documented them, in all their (possibly) fascinating variety, in the Daily Blog. I have joined a choir, learning all manner of songs which nobody
has ever heard of, including - most recently - one about "Turmut Hoeing." A turmut is another name for a turnip - don't you just love it when the Daily Blog comes over all educational? I have learnt, at first hand, what it is like to be a volunteer on all
kinds of projects, from encouraging children to read during the summer holidays to researching the stories of war veterans. Age is immaterial when it comes to helping out. I have developed the gardening bug; indeed, my fingers are turning a very faint shade
I can talk semi-learnedly about our feathered friends, thanks to my membership of the Birdy Group - so much so that when the Youngest of the Darling
Daughters reported the presence of nuthatches in her back garden (yes, she is turning into me. Poor thing) I was able to tell her that when a nuthatch descends a tree trunk, it does it upside down. I think she was impressed. Or possibly not.
My poor Mr B's deteriorating health has meant that our retirement hasn't been packed with foreign travel, exciting holidays and visiting places near and far. I am afraid I haven't
been able to tick off too many items on the "Places to Go and People To Visit" list which I drew up shortly before I retired.
And yet, and yet...Tragic events
like those which unfolded in Manchester last week have made us all think twice - and more - about those in our lives who mean most to us. I count myself so lucky to be here for Mr B when he needs me more than ever. So lucky with family, friends and neighbours
who are always there for us. I wouldn't have known how blessed I am, had retirement turned out as I expected.
If you ever watched "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"
you will surely remember the exchange between Evelyn and Muriel. "Nothing here has turned out as I expected," says Evelyn, to which Muriel replies, sagely: "Most things don't. Sometimes what happens instead is the good stuff..."
Here's to the next five years of seeing what happens instead...