When I was young and played baseball, I could never hit a curve-ball. The ball would start on one side of the plate, move across it, then plummet into the ground. The result was always a swing and a miss for a strike. There were rare occasions that one of these curves would hang and not plummet and I would connect and the results were always outstanding. Life has been throwing curves at me since I was born.
The underlying theme of many of my blogs of the past, have been about my impending retirement. Well campers guess what? The time is here! I have reached the status of the ‘un-employed’. I have become a statistic, that is compiled by the federal government. You now find me listed in the ‘too old to get meaningful work’ category. My name has probably been forwarded to the Big Box Stores as a potential greeter.
2021 has been a tough year. Tougher than 2020, go figure. In 2020, all I had to do was dodge an invisible killer flu-virus, while working every day in public. Not a big deal. I dipsy-ed and I doodled around the killer flu, and with Christmas only a week away, Honey and I had succeeded in staying healthy. Then life threw me a curve-ball.
On Christmas eve, Honey took a spill at work and broke both her wrists. I started 2021 playing nurse for my wife. This impacted my plans to call it quits on June 1st, and enter the land of the retired. I was forced to use all my holidays so I could stay home and care for Honey. The holiday pay money would have paid out when I retired, and was ear-marked to handle my expenses for the remainder of 2021. Instead, it was used for day-to-day survival in January and February.
To compensate for this loss of extra pay at retirement and address the bills that would be coming in September, it was decided that I would move my retirement date to Aug 1st. This date change I felt would take care of paying my fall tax and insurance bills and what happened beyond that I could manage. My inner voice had a different opinion, “She broke both her wrists you idiot! Don’t retire!!” it screamed at me.
Shortly after returning to work full-time in March, I injured my ribcage. It was a ‘suck-it-up princess’ injury. I could continue to work, as long as I was careful and could handle the pain. I felt I had worked through much more painful things and it would not be a problem. My new boss felt differently and made me take a week off. I had only worked two weeks so far this year! My inner voice also had an opinion on this situation, “See, it’s coming for you!! You’re going to need the benefits they have to offer you. You’re being an idiot! Don’t retire!!”
Through March and April, Honey continued to heal. The casts had been bad enough but her rehab was painful to watch. I could do nothing to help her, she needed to put in the work required to heal by herself. There were days when she had a hate on for just about everyone, doctor, physiotherapist, the workplace insurance company and mostly her arms. “I feel like I still have casts on,” she would growl when her arms would not respond properly to her brains command. I tried to stay away from her on those days, she scared me!
I’m stubborn and like to think I’m a man of my word, as long as I remember what I said. I had said August 1st and I had meant it. Ready or not, retirement here I come!! Determined to stick to my new retirement date, I submitted the paperwork to my pension center at the beginning of May and got the whole thing moving. I had locked in to the date and with a stroke of a pen I had committed. On August 1st all company pay and benefits would cease to exist in my life. In its place would be a fixed income with no benefits.
Two weeks after I had sent in all my paperwork to the powers that be, life threw me another curve-ball. At the end of the May I sustained an injury that was the worst I had ever experienced. It felt like the middle of my back had exploded. It was so bad, that I actually had a face-to-face examination with a doctor! He said I was done, cooked, broken to the point that it would be a miracle for me to work another day before my retirement started. All I could hear was my inner voice muttering, “idiot, idiot, idiot. You shouldn’t have retired”.
I barely moved for the month of June, and Honey took care of almost everything. At the beginning of the year, we had laughed about ‘Honey owing me big’ for all I had done when she was wearing casts. I didn’t think I would be collecting this year!! But here we were. Honey was still struggling with her rehab after 5 months since her casts had come off, frustrated by the time it was taking to heal. Her anger was solely focused on the case-worker from her workplace insurer. He was a paper-pusher and paid little attention to comments being made on reports sent to him. He seemed to just find the numbers on the reports that he needed, and skipped the rest. Honey called him a lot of bad names.
By July I had improved only slightly. I was seeing the doctor and the physiotherapist regularly. Both were telling me that my injury would be around well into my retirement. It was depressing. Once my official retirement date arrived, I had told both professionals, I would have no benefits to pay for services and medications. My last physio appointment was booked for the last week of July and my doctor increased the size of my prescription in an effort to help me out, and I had received a bucket of ‘wobbly pills’.
Then life threw a hanging curve-ball. I had a conference call with my boss and the case-worker in charge of my medical file, on the last week of my career. During this call the case-worker informed both my boss and myself that my short-term disability took precedent over my retirement date. I was told that all my medical coverage would continue until it was deemed that I was medically fit to retire. Only then would my retirement kick-in. It also meant that I would continue to receive a weekly pay cheque. OMG!!! Did I just win the lottery?!!! Why had I bothered wasting my money on all those paper-tickets?!! I was sending this woman virtual hugs over the phone!! The best part was I didn’t need to tell local management of this change, local management was already on the line!!
Life is a funny thing. No one I knew saw a pandemic of this magnitude coming. Lockdowns, shutdowns, toilet paper shortages. It caught us all off guard. To the best of my knowledge, my accident meant I would leave my job of 34-years broken, and would have to accept that I would need to mend on my own dime. I accepted this fact. I had made the decisions I had made, and would stand by them. I had chosen to ignore my inner voice every time it had told me, “You’re an idiot, don’t retire!” and when I missed on another curve, I chose not to moan and complain about what had happened to me. I would hold my head high as I left the ballpark. What was, was. Then life had thrown me the only curve-ball I had ever been able to hit.
Welcome to my semi-retirement.