COMING TO GRIPS WITH REALITY – by Joy Barrow
Okay, so I suggested it! But WOW now it’s real! My Mother was forever admonishing me to ‘think before you speak’ but I never managed to learn that piece of advice. Always too quick to speak and live to regret, I think was her phrase.
I married the most wonderful man and yes, I am biased. We have had a wonderful forty years together and he has been the love of my life, my business partner, my friend and my handyman. However, the man is only 99.9% perfect and the missing bit is that he is a workaholic. David needs to define his life with a job title and retiree is not one he embraces.
One day when he was blue, I said, ‘oh for heaven’s sake why don’t you volunteer with AVI (Australian Volunteers International) and he did. So now at my bequest he is leaving for Fiji for one year. How will I cope? I am very happy he is taking this chance later in our lives to explore the non-touristic side of Fiji and to use his skills in communication to make a difference to life in Savusavu, which is on the Island of Vanua Levu.
I had the choice to accompany David to Fiji, but I chose not to. Having spent five years in Solomon Islands and one year in Sri Lanka I felt the need to take a break from life in the tropics. When we were working in Sri Lanka I succumbed to Typhoid Fever and two years on my immune system and physical strength are somewhat depleted.
A detailed plan of action was needed. There were twelve weeks to complete my extensive home fix it list and with a couple to go I am almost there. First came the small jobs that had been waiting without urgency, such as repair a lock, replant a large shrub, polish two antique fruitwood tables, replace our 26 halogen ceiling lights with LED and other physical jobs that were beyond my somewhat depleted strength. I can’t lift heavy objects, climb ladders or use any but the most basic tools.
Other matters needed expert help. Seeing our solicitor to make sure our affairs were up to date. Selling one car, extending our air conditioning, simplifying the garden watering system and the pool filtration. David also needed a medical check, a dental examination and police clearance.
We wanted to make a flying visit to friends and family. Although I will see my family in Sydney and the Hunter Valley, I will be unlikely to drive to Queensland. To make the most of time we organized a large family lunch and in Canberra we had a dinner for eight with old friends from university days. We haven’t done the local cheerios just yet but will probably opt for drinks at our home.
So, now as the time draws closer, how do I feel? Pleased my husband has a chance to fulfill his needs. Worried about how I will cope both emotionally and physically, but I know I have many opportunities to be self-fulfilled. The day to day is probably the hardest, the big picture however, is bright and adventurous. I have started planning new activities on the local scene and researching a holiday abroad. I will join my cousin in New Mexico for a couple of weeks, then travel to Cuba (a definite on my bucket list) via Florida and perhaps see friends in England, Cyprus and Greece. Perhaps too much travel but I can pare it down. I love travelling by train and boat so that will take a priority in my travel plans.
At home I will engage in several forms of exercise for the older person, hopefully be inspired to begin my autobiography, try to become a basic handy person, read lots and watch films. There will be lunches with friends and trips to stay with family. I said in ‘My Welcome Back’ opening for ‘Fifty Five Plus’ that time flies, well three months did. I now hope it will seem but a flash in the pan from when I kiss David bon voyage and welcome him back with another in a year’s time.
There may be the odd damp pillow, but I am sure that our love will grow through this separation and with iPhone, Skype, What’s App, Messenger, email and maybe with a surprise visit our time apart will be a small gap in a lifetime of four decades.