I wouldn't be retired if it was not for my amazing wife Carol. She put the thought in my head last fall, suggesting that I look into retirement after my 62nd birthday.
On the surface of it I thought the girl was daft, but that word "retirement" lodged itself in my diseased brain and wouldn't let go.
I started investigating in February, with the firm conviction that the exercise was futile, that we would never be able to afford one of us retiring. I was a non-believer prepared to work until I died (whiskey would have killed me before the job ever did).
Then things began to fall in to place. Still I hesitated. Eventually all the facts lined up to the point where I could no longer ignore the obvious - I would be a flaming idiot if I did not retire.
At a relatively young age and in comparatively good health.
Carol had to see this as a bit of a gamble. Part of her brain, the part I have conditioned over the years, probably envisioned the possibility that I would drink whiskey and smoke pot in sloth-like lethargy until we lost our home and our marriage crumbled.
However, I have to believe she figured the odds were more in favor of me recognizing the gift I was given and actually turning my life - and our life - around to the point where we could both be happy and get ourselves some peace.
I have been a good boy for the past two years or so. I no longer drink myself into a numbed state of existence. Whiskey river has not run dry but it has certainly slowed to a trickle.
I think Carol acknowledges this and gambled that I have turned a corner.
She is right.
Amusing anecdote: We were together on a lazy Sunday and I decided a little whiskey would be a good thing. The magic fluid was near empty so I tipped the bottle up and drained it into my favorite glass. Turns out there was quite a bit more in there than I thought - the glass was 3/4 full.
I walked it into the kitchen along with the bottle, grabbed a funnel and poured half of it back. Carol asked "What are you doing?" I said "there is too much whiskey here, I am dumping some of it back." She laughed and said "I never thought I'd see the day."
When Carol first brought up the idea of retirement I suspiciously asked why she would suggest such a thing for me.
She said "Because I would like to see my husband happy for once in his life."
Do you understand the depth of that response? The selfless, loving nature of it?
I was overwhelmed and remain so now and probably forever.
Carol is the most loving, caring, thoughtful person on planet earth, which is only one of 300 reasons why I love her so deeply.
For the immediate future she has condemned herself to getting up for work five days a week while I sleep late. Soon I will be working part time but still probably half the hours that Carol works.
I have told her repeatedly that this retirement is not about me, it is about us. I told her I will do everything in my power to make her life easier.
She doesn't get it yet.
This morning as she was leaving she said she was stopping to pick up milk on the way home and asked if I needed anything.
Nothing in the world sucks more than having to run an errand after a day on the job.
I told her I would pick up the milk.
I will cook, I will load and unload the dishwasher, I will do the laundry, I will cut the grass, I will take care of the little errands.
Retirement is a sweet and beautiful gift for me, a chance to make my life my own and release my soul from the dark, exposing it confidently to the light of day and the world.
I am grateful for that opportunity.
I am more grateful for Carol. The longer we are together the more I love her, and I don't give a damn if you believe that or not.
I am lucky to be in the position that I am in; luckier still that Carol still stands by my side.