Monday, May 28, 2012

Wynn Anne Versus the Volcano

Based on Joe Versus the Volcano,
a very under-rated movie.
This is a continuation from my previous post, where I started to write about my father, who died almost exactly a year after he retired.

My dad's nickname at work was OT Simpson. The OT stood for "overtime" because he was always looking for extra pay. With seven children to feed, clothe, shelter, and send to university, that's probably no surprise.

He worked in construction, from dawn to dusk. He was gone before I woke in the morning, back in time for a late dinner. He often took a nap in the evening.

When he finally retired, I think we all felt he was overdue for a rest.

But he'd had triple-bypass surgery about four eight years earlier and was not in good health. He'd tried to quit smoking but we all knew he was sneaking cigarettes. His blood sugar was bad (though he was not diagnosed with diabetes).

And then, one night at dinner after complaining of an upset stomach all day, he collapsed. He never regained consciousness. He was 66 years old.

In Joe Versus the Volcano, the main character is a workaday chap slogging away in a mind-numbingly dead-end, pointless job. One day, he learns that the annoying cough he has developed is a terminal illness and he has mere weeks to live.

In classic Hollywood style, he drops everything and takes off to have an adventure. (I almost told you how the story ends, but you'll have to see the movie for that!)

As I pondered my own health and mortality, I wondered: if my dad had known at 50 that he only had 16 years left, would he have made any different choices? Would he, like Joe, have dropped everything and taken off on an adventure?

One of the questions Steve and I have tossed around is whether or not I will retire when he does two years from now. Because I took many years off to have babies (years that I do not for one moment regret), I've thought about tacking some of those years on to this end of my career.

I enjoy my job and the people I work with. I look forward to going to work (though I often wish it began later in the day) and enjoy the creative and collaborative aspects of my job. I don't feel like I'm just punching the clock until I can retire.

Financially, it would be difficult but not impossible for me to retire with Steve.

But as Steve and I chatted over a piece of carrot cake, it occurred to me that this is not an either-or situation. Could I re-jig my work hours? Switch to part-time or contract? Maybe even freelance?

No decisions made, but it's on my mind.

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